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Published: 2002-03-01 00:00:00

Ratepayers in Huntly, Te Kauwhata and the lower Waikato can expect to pay about $20.31 in rates per $100,000 of the value of their properties under Project Watershed cost details outlined this week.

Ratepayers who receive direct benefit from specific protection works will pay more, but this will include some of the District Council rates previously paid through drainage scheme rates.

Over the past five years Environment Waikato has been required to review how existing schemes which protect land from flooding and soil erosion can be funded. The Government no longer provides funding and the schemes have been under-funded or inequitably funded. The Region is divided into five management zones, and Environment Waikato has been working with the communities to identify what services are needed and how they could be funded.

The communities have indicated they value the existing works and have been debating the level of new work that should be started. Proposed work programmes, including existing and new works, will cost around $5.8 million a year and all ratepayers will be affected.

In the Lower Waikato zone – which includes Huntly and parts of Franklin District – the capital value of existing works is $62.4 million, with $61.7 million in flood protection and $700,000 in soil conservation works. Existing soil conservation works include 40 individual plans mainly in the Glen Murray area and works include retirement of erosion-prone land, conservation planting and fencing.

Flood protection works include works completed under the Lower Waikato Waipa Control Scheme, including assets funded by Waikato and Franklin District Councils.

Proposed new capital works amount to $6.3 million, including $5.95 in flood protection and river management.

Also included are soil conservation proposals involving additional streambank protection and treatment of high risk hill country erosion areas. The focus will be on the Opuatia, Matahuru, Mangapiko and Whangape catchments.

Regional ratepayers who live outside the catchment will also be contributing to Project Watershed through their general rates at about $2.35 per $100,000 of property value.

Ratepayers can find out how much they will pay by visiting Environment Waikato’s website, www.ew.govt.nz/watershed, or calling 0800 WE CONSULT (0800 932 667) with their latest rates account.

The draft funding policy is open for submissions and comment until Monday, April 8. Submissions will be heard by the Council from mid April and the formal adoption of the final funding policy will be done at the end of May. Rates incorporating Project Watershed will be struck at the July Council meeting.