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Published: 2001-06-14 00:00:00

Who benefits from and who should pay for flood protection works on the Tongariro River was one of the major issues during open discussion on Environment Waikato’s Project Watershed at the latest Lake Taupo Liaison Sub Committee meeting.

Committee members were asked to comment on the level of work required within the Lake Taupo Management Zone under Project Watershed and how it should be paid for.

There was general agreement that existing works should be maintained but, in common with other liaison sub committees, members want to see benefits better quantified before committing to any major works.

An estimated $625,000 is needed for flood protection works on the Tongariro and Tauranga-Taupo Rivers, and the remainder of the $2.1 million budget is targeted at riparian plantings within the zone.

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 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.

Whakamaru 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.”