Waikato councils have formed a Waikato Civil Defence Emergency Management Group to manage emergencies in the region.
The group’s formation follows more than 10 years of emergency management reviews and the passage of the Civil Defence Emergency Management Act in December last year. The members of the group include Environment Waikato, Hamilton City Council, Hauraki, Matamata Piako, Otorohanga, South Waikato, Thames Coromandel, Taupo, Waikato, Waipa and Waitomo district councils.
The area does not directly include Franklin and Rotorua District Councils, parts of which fall into Waikato regional boundaries, but which will combine with Auckland and Bay of Plenty for emergency management. The group has informally met several times since 2001 to sort out issues such as funding and response roles.
Environment Waikato Emergency Management Programme Manager Brendan Morris said the new group raises the importance of emergency management to mayoral level. It also focuses on hazard and risk identification and reduction. There is also a requirement that local government work more closely with emergency services and other organisations.
Environment Waikato will be responsible for planning, administration and co-ordination, while the city and district councils will retain their response roles. Environment Waikato retains responsibility for responding to river flooding and marine oil spills.
The current 11 different civil defence plans for the region will now be combined into one over the next two years, and the new group will approve the plan for the entire Region.