Environment Waikato’s Project Watershed has passed a key milestone with the recommended adoption of a draft funding policy for the project.
Project Watershed is developing a long term funding policy for flood protection, soil conservation, and river management services in the greater Waikato Catchment. It is identifying the level of service required by the community and the fairest way to pay for those service.
This month’s Corporate Services Committee heard adopting the funding policy to support the objectives was a milestone for the project, which began in 1999. The project includes the Waikato and Waipa rivers and tributaries, and incorporates the existing Lower Waikato-Waipa Control Scheme, Lake Taupo, Reporoa, Paeroa Range, Waitomo and Karapiro/ Arapuni Catchment Control Schemes, as well as local flood protection and river management works which are currently managed by territorial local authorities.
The funding policy has been developed through input from technical experts and a process of informal consultation with subcommittees representing seven management zones, and interested stakeholders. The subcommittees have met at least six times, advising the Council on appropriate levels of service and feedback on the policy.
A number of informal meetings have also been held to talk to the public and seek feedback on potential rating implications. These have focused on communities in the Lower Waikato, and Tongariro and Tauranga-Taupo areas due to the flood requirements in those areas.
The funding consultation document has been revised since it was received by the Council last August, incorporating requests from subcommittees and taking into account further technical work. Other reports identify contributors, beneficiaries and alleviators.
Since December, the two Waipa subcommittees have recommended amalgamating into a single management zone with a single rate, and other recommendations have also been incorporated into the document.
Corporate Services Group Manager Warren Stevens said while Corporate Services was comfortable with the level of service contained in the document, many people were likely to have other views.
“We welcome their input during the submissions process.”
The document will open for public submissions in early March, and submissions will close on 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 June. Rates incorporating Project Watershed will be struck at the July Council meeting.