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Published: 2016-03-01 00:00:00

Some of the Waikato region’s key environmental and economic issues – including water use, pressures on our coastlines and biodiversity loss - will be explored at a forum at Karapiro tomorrow.

Organised by Waikato Regional Council, the Sustainable Waikato: issues and actions forum will be the first of three council-organised events this year to look at significant issues and options for addressing them.

"These events are designed to enable important information to be shared and to inspire community conversations about issues that really matter in the Waikato," said chairperson Paula Southgate.

“Tomorrow’s interactive session – to be held at the Don Rowlands Centre - is the beginning of a shared journey to create a strong, sustainable Waikato.”

The event will run from 10am to 1pm.

Cr Southgate said items on the agenda touched on three of the most pressing issues confronting the region:

  • starting the conversation with stakeholders and the public on possible actions for the best use and management of fresh water into the future
  • coastal pressures, including sea level rise
  • arresting the rate of biodiversity loss.

"These issues are being discussed globally but they are also critical local issues needing local solutions. To tackle them we need to share information, start talking about solutions and collaborate,” said Cr Southgate.

For example, action was needed locally to ensure sustainable use of water resources through wise allocation and management of water. Perspectives to be shared on water include those of:

  • Land and Water Forum chair Alastair Bisley (the forum, a collaborative and wide-ranging group of stakeholders, is a key adviser to Government and is developing a common direction for freshwater management).
  • Kate Alcock from the Sustainable Business Council, on what business thinks about water management.
  • Waikato-Tainui leader Rahui Papa, on iwi rights and interests.

“Water quality and allocation over the next 50-100 years will remain the region’s top issue. This is why the collaborative Healthy Rivers/Wai Ora work for the Waikato and Waipa rivers is vital. But beyond that we need to think broadly and creatively about the wise and efficient use of water in the long term,” said Cr Southgate.

The event will also see the launch of a groundbreaking online tool developed by the council to help people visualise potential sea level rise scenarios on the Waikato’s coasts.

The next forum is scheduled for July with a third set down for November.