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Published: 2001-08-30 00:00:00

Some Upper Waipa land owners have suggested that Environment Waikato or the Department of Conservation consider purchasing the troubled Tunawaea slip.

Halting soil erosion at the slip is a major priority for representatives on the Environment Waikato Upper Waipa liaison sub-committee formed to discuss Project Watershed. Project Watershed is an Environment Waikato project which aims to develop a long-term catchment-wide funding policy to pay for flood control, river management and soil conservation work.
Government funding no longer covers the work necessary in the Region and ratepayers are now expected to foot the bill.

Environment Waikato has been discussing possible work in the Upper Waipa management zone at community meetings and also with the liaison sub-committee set up specifically to look at what work is necessary, and how it should be paid for.

As a result of that consultation, both in the Upper Waipa and in other parts of the Region, Environment Waikato has cut back on some of the soil conservation work it had originally proposed until local communities agree it is necessary.

In the Upper Waikato zone, the liaison subcommittee suggested that work be prioritised - with the Tunawaea slip at the top of the list. For the Mangapu catchment, it suggested that soil conservation and river management work occur over a 10-year period, but that overall work in the zone be spread over 20 years. Members suggested that landowners should be able to carry out minor river works themselves.

Environment Waikato Chairman Neil Clarke said it was the soil conservation proposals which had caused most debate throughout the wider catchment. As a result, Environment Waikato had cut back on the soil conservation work originally proposed and concentrated on what the liaison sub-committees had said was important for their areas, he said.

"It's worth noting, however, that none of the soil conservation work proposed as part of Project Watershed would be compulsory. It simply would not be done without the input and support of landowners," Mr Clarke said.

Under the draft funding policy due for release next month, it is tentatively proposed that around $230,000 be spent in capital works in the Upper Waipa zone, with an annual maintenance expenditure over the next 10 years of $220,000.

Under the proposal, urban ratepayers with a property worth approximately $100,000 might see Environment Waikato rates go up by an additional $18.60 per year. Rural ratepayers with a property worth approximately $1 million might see Environment Waikato rates go up by an additional $186.00 per year. Commercial/industrial ratepayers with a property worth $500,000 might see Environment Waikato rates go up by an additional $93.00 per year.

By law, how much each ratepayer might pay will depend on how much they benefit from the work proposed, and how much they contribute to the cause of the problem.
Ratepayers living in different parts of the Region will pay different amounts, according to what work is done in their area. Ratepayers who do not live in the wider catchment will also contribute to the cost via the general rate.

"At the end of the day, the community needs to look at the proposal and decide whether it's fair and equitable. There seems to be no doubt that the work needs to be done - the question is, who should pay?" Mr Clarke said.

The draft funding policy is due to be ratified by Environment Waikato at the end of August, and will form the basis of a consultation programme with communities catchment-wide.

Following ratification, the draft policy will be available to anyone who wishes to see it, Mr Clarke said. Meanwhile, information about Project Watershed, and the Upper Waipa management zone, is available on or by calling Environment Waikato toll-free on 0800 932 667.