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Published: 2014-09-02 00:00:00

Sheep and beef farmers and Hamilton city’s water and wastewater treatment plants have both been involved recently with the Healthy Rivers: Plan for Change/Wai Ora: He Rautaki Whakapaipai process aimed at protecting the Waikato and Waipa rivers.

The project’s Collaborative Stakeholder Group – a representative group which is looking to develop a proposed regional plan change for the rivers – has visited the Hamilton city plants to hear about rules and regulations that control discharges to the Waikato River.

The CSG’s chair Bill Wasley said it was interesting to hear about Hamilton City Council’s ongoing improvements to its discharges.

“Along with farmers and many other groups they’re working towards improving the health of the river.”

This month CSG members are to visit Lake Ohakuri hydroelectric power station, Wairakei geothermal power station and the Kinleith pulp and paper mill. All use Waikato River water.

Meanwhile, about 100 sheep and beef farmers have attended meetings in Huntly, Otorohanga and Putaruru about Healthy Rivers/Wai Ora.

At the meetings, organised by Beef + lamb New Zealand, farmers were provided by project team members with an overview of Healthy Rivers/Wai Ora.

CSG sheep and beef sector representative James Bailey was there to hear farmers’ comments: “Farmers are keen to get on the front foot environmentally, if they’re not already.”

He said farmers also wanted the CSG to understand some of the practical challenges involved in improving environmental performance. A CSG visit to a sheep and beef farm to see on-the-ground realities firsthand is planned for early next year.

Meanwhile, a workshop on Healthy Rivers/Wai Ora next month will look at the project’s progress and give an opportunity for people to comment on the CSG’s draft criteria for choosing policy options.