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Published: 2001-05-23 00:00:00

How much soil conservation and flood protection work should be carried out in the Upper and Middle Waipa catchments and who should pay for it?

These were the topics of a combined liaison sub-committee meeting organised at Te Kawa by Environment Waikato to further progress on its Project Watershed, which seeks to develop a funding policy for a range of services based on the needs of the whole Waikato catchment.

The meeting was unusual in that three stages of catchment service provision were represented, reflecting changing philosophies as the merits of soil conservation work become better recognised.

Project manager Nath Pritchard says Upper Waikato committee member Ian McGillivray, who spoke on the successes of the Reporoa schemes introduced more than 20 years ago, represented a viewpoint which believed “it needed to be done, but how could we have done it better?”

The Upper Waipa liaison committee, many of whom have been involved for some time helping to draft an earlier management plan for the Upper Waipa catchment, had come to a stage where they feel “it’s worth doing, but how will we do it?

In contrast, the newly formed Middle Waipa liaison committee is still attempting to come to grips with the possible benefits of soil conservation work, and say “we’re not yet convinced, so show us why we should do it”.

The combined meeting was the first real opportunity liaison committee members have had a chance to air their views on the merits or otherwise of Project Watershed.

Earlier meetings had focused on getting information about the project and its expected benefits to the committees.

In a discussion on the possible funding split, members of the both committees were unanimous that major works, like dealing with the Tunawaea slip on the Upper Waipa, should be funded on a regional/catchment basis.

There was a general belief that soil conservation works could be more economically dealt with by Environment Waikato restricting its role to providing advice and education, with landowners carrying out soil conservation measures independently.

A concern was expressed that many farmers who did not live on the river did not realise they were likely to be rated in part for catchment services.

After the seven liaison sub committees have held similar meetings, Environment Waikato staff will present a draft policy to council consideration before the draft goes out for further informal public consultation.

A formal policy will then be developed for formal public consultation in the new year, with the final funding policy being implemented in the 2002-2003 rating year.