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Published: 2004-02-04 00:00:00

Most Thames-Coromandel District Council ratepayers will be asked to pay around $14 per $100,000 capital value of their property each year to help protect their local land, native bush and harbours.

Environment Waikato will also use the money to protect community assets like buildings, bridges and roads from river flooding.

The Regional Council estimates around $27 million needs to be spent over the next 20 years to improve the condition of rivers, streams and catchments on the Peninsula. Without it, the Council says the Peninsula will see further damage from flooding as well as degradation of land, native bush, harbours and estuaries.

Last year, Environment Waikato and the District Council launched The Peninsula Project to address concerns about the poor state of local rivers, streams and catchments. Both Councils were concerned about the impact waterways were having on local infrastructure such as buildings, roads and bridges as well as on the environment.

Environment Waikato has costed out a possible programme of work to better manage local rivers and catchments. The potential costs of the project are detailed in a brochure to be sent to most TCDC ratepayers next week, other than Thames residents who are covered by the Waihou Valley Scheme and are not affected by the proposals.

In the brochure, Environment Waikato highlights three key areas; controlling possums and goats which cause erosion, improving river and catchment management and protecting specific locations such as Manaia and Port Charles from flooding.

Detailed flood protection proposals for five priority communities on the Thames Coast have already been presented. They are currently being discussed with working parties in Tararu, Te Puru, Waiomu/Pohue, Tapu and Coromandel Township.

Environment Waikato spokesperson Julie Beaufill said a strong and sustained focus on rivers and catchments, pests and flood protection would give long-term benefits for the Peninsula.

“If the work goes ahead, it will mean greater protection of land, native bush and harbours, protection against flooding for vulnerable communities and reduced damage to vital community assets like roads and bridges. We believe the work needs to be spread over 20 years to make it affordable. But it will be up to the community to tell us what work they want done and how quickly,” she said.

When the Peninsula Project was originally costed last year, it was estimated $30 million would be required. Work estimates have now reduced to $27 million. Of that, around $5.4 million has been tagged for the Thames Coast with another $9 million tagged for flood protection measures elsewhere on the Peninsula. Controlling pests is estimated to cost $4.9 million and work on rivers and catchments $7.7 million. EW estimates another $2 million will be needed to maintain the work each year.

Under these preliminary proposals, a Coromandel property with a capital value of $365,000 would pay around $55 per year. Localised flood protection work and specific erosion control work would be in addition to this and would largely be paid for by property owners who would benefit from the work. Environment Waikato and Thames-Coromandel District Council have approached central government about helping pay to protect the State Highways against flooding as well as get goats and possums under control on DoC land.

“If the work goes ahead, ratepayers throughout the greater Waikato Region will also be contributing via their EW rates, but the reality is that local ratepayers will be required to fund a significant part of any work done on the Peninsula,” Ms Beaufill said. The Council was trying to give ratepayers as much opportunity as possible to consider the implications.

The brochure is a “first cut” at what might be done and feedback from the community would help guide the Council in drafting a funding policy, Ms Beaufill said. That policy is due to be released in March.

“We’re trying to give local people as much information as we can before the draft policy and work programme is signed off by Council and formally released for comment.”