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Published: 2001-06-11 00:00:00

An ambitious goal of preventing stock from accessing any waterway within the next 10 years is being seriously considered in the Reporoa area.

This was one of the recommendations put forward by the Upper Waikato Liaison Sub Committee during open discussions on the scope of Environment Waikato’s Project Watershed.

Local landowner Iain McGilvray said he believed the time was coming when Environment Waikato should consider requiring a resource consent to be applied for by any farmer wanting to access waterways for stock watering purposes.

The committee chose stock control as their main focus on what work was required in their area under Project Watershed, and believed there should be incentives to encourage this work to be carried out as soon as possible.

They recommended flexibility in terms of how such work could be funded, suggesting Environment Waikato could pick up the total costs up front and recover them from landowners over a three to five year period. This would also assist landowners where major work was required and funding could be a sticking point.

Committee members felt a continuation of the present subsidy ratio of 65 percent paid by landowners and 35 percent by Environment Waikato was fair.

Project Watershed is a two year consultation programme to put in place a new funding policy for services on a catchment-wide basis. It followed Government’s decision to cease funding catchment services and takes in the requirement under the Local Government Amendment Act No 3 to consider who contributes to the need for such work or benefits from it, when recovering costs.

The new funding policy is expected to draw in those who those who contribute to the need for the work, those who benefit from it and those who improve the situation.

Environment Waikato is aiming to have a draft funding policy available for informal public consultation around August, and a final draft for formal consultation early next year. It needs to have the new policy in place before the 2002-2003 rating year, because that’s when existing Government funding for catchment schemes ceases.

Upper Waikato is one of seven liaison sub committees formed by Environment Waikato to advise it on Project Watershed and to communicate the project to local communities.

Project manager Nath Pritchard says Project Watershed is close to an important milestone with the pending release of the informal discussion draft.

“It is important that people who do not live on the Waikato River, or one of the catchment tributaries, understand that they could be expected to contribute towards work that is considered to be of regional significance.

“Now’s the time for them to be taking an interest, if they want their views represented.”