Nearly 500 people have made submissions to Environment Waikato on Project Watershed, which is developing a system to pay for river management, flood protection and vital soil conservation work in the Waikato and Waipa river catchments.
Submissions closed this week on the project and hearings begin on Thursday, April 18. A total of 495 groups and individuals have made submissions, from large corporations such as Mighty River Power and Genesis, Carter Holt Harvey and Federated Farmers to Huntly residents and individual ratepayers throughout the catchment area.
Issues raised cover a number of aspects of the project, including the effect on individual rates bills, how funding policy has been derived, economic principles and individual property issues. Some submitters want the project abandoned, some say they want the funding spread more widely across the Region, and some say they should not have to pay as their property is unaffected by flooding.
Project Watershed Hearings Committee chair Cr Andra Neeley said a large number of submissions were expected on such a large proposal. Hearings will be held in Taupo, Hamilton and Mercer for all those who wished to be heard by the Council in person.
Meanwhile, ratepayers can find out about Project Watershed and its effect on their own property on the Council’s website, www.ew.govt.nz, or by calling a call centre, on 0800 WE CONSULT (0800 932 667).
More than $150 million is invested in existing flood protection and river management schemes, but with Government funding no longer available and deficits from years of under funding accumulating, Environment Waikato has been required to review how the schemes should be funded in the future.
Even if no new services are provided, Environment Waikato needs to find an additional $1.4 million a year to pay for work commitments, Cr Neeley said.
The Council is proposing a total works programme of $5.8 million a year, with new work phased in over 20 years and different amounts of work required in each part of the catchment.
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