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Published: 2007-06-15 00:00:00

Buoyant economic activity is putting increasing pressure on Environment Waikato to source staff with the specialised skills required to manage the region’s rivers and catchments.

“Present economic activity in the region is driving significant demand for river information and technical support for resource use issues,” Environment Waikato’s River and Catchment Services (RCS) group manager Scott Fowlds said.

Environment Waikato’s Catchment Services Committee was told demand for technical services staff had increased significantly following the adoption of work programmes such as Project Watershed in 2002 and the Peninsula Project in 2004, at its recent meeting in Hamilton.

“We need highly skilled people and they are currently in short supply,” Mr Fowlds told the meeting.

The RCS group oversees the management and maintenance of $500 million worth of flood protection, river management and catchment management assets, including 412 flood gates, 122 pump stations and 604km of stop banks.

“Increasingly – as with Project Watershed and the Peninsula Project – we are looking at whole of catchment management, from the hills to the harbours, due to the interconnected nature of waterways,” Mr Fowlds said.

“We are doing this by integrating various work programmes designed to reduce flood risks, improve water quality, protect valuable farm land from erosion and increase biodiversity.”

The RCS group’s technical support team provides engineering, project management and planning support and expertise on managing contracts, assets and information. It is currently involved with projects such as the Waihou scheme review, hazard planning and asset management plan reviews.