Some of the country’s leading agricultural economists have been meeting in Hamilton over the past two days to flesh out the economic benefits to be derived from Project Watershed.
Project Watershed is a two-year project being undertaken by Environment Waikato to develop a sustainable funding system to pay for soil conservation, flood protection and river management works in the greater Waikato catchment.
The economists visited two sites in the Whitehall and Karapiro areas on Tuesday morning to view examples of the type of soil erosion works envisaged under Project Watershed and began discussions in the afternoon on how to best quantify economic benefits from the project.
Today the economists and Waikato Regional Council staff will develop a framework to demonstrate the actual cost benefits that will arise from soil conservation work including riparian planting.
Project manager Nath Pritchard says Federated Farmers, in particular, has asked for economic benefits to be identified as well as the obvious environmental benefits.
Yesterday Whitehall farmers Graeme Gleeson and Graham Pinnell told the economists that members of their Landcare group had recognised that they needed to look to the future when it came to sustainably managing their properties.
They believed the day would come when environmental factors would play a major role in determining market access.
Environment Waikato has already distributed detailed information about the potential costs of Project Watershed to individual ratepayers. It is anticipated that around $6.3 million may need to be spent in the Region.
Currently, $3.1 million per year is required to fund just the existing level of works and services. Even if no new services are provided at all in the future, Environment Waikato must find an additional $1.3 million per year to make up the shortfall.
A toll-free number, 0800 932 667, has been established to deal with enquiries about the Project.
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