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Published: 2013-05-31 00:00:00

Waikato Regional Council is involved in a leading edge new project which will analyse the potential economic and environmental trade-offs involved in managing water quality.

Councillors were updated yesterday in a briefing to the land and water quality sub-committee in Hamilton.

The sub-committee heard that the Waikato Economic Impact Joint Venture Studies project stemmed from a Government request for more information on the potential costs and benefits involved in protecting water quality from the effects of such things as intensive agriculture and erosion.

The project will be a joint effort involving the council, central government agencies, Dairy NZ and the Waikato River Authority (WRA).

It will specifically look at the potential economic and environmental trade-offs involved in setting water quality objectives and limits.

Modelling of water quality limits in the Waikato River catchment will be undertaken. The work will help the Government in its policy development and other regional councils in their work to implement national fresh water objectives.

The analysis is separate to the Healthy Rivers: Plan for Change/Wai Ora: He Rautaki Whakapaipai project in the Waikato River and Waipa River catchments but will support the Waikato Regional Council and its iwi partners in looking at what changes are needed to the regional plan to better protect these two rivers.

Sub-committee chair Norm Barker said the Waikato Economic Impact Joint Venture Studies project was an opportunity for the council to work with key agencies on information that would support good decisions for waterways at local, regional and national levels.

“It’s important we work closely with others on gathering this type of detailed information so that we make the soundest possible decisions for the future.

"The information gathered through Joint Venture Studies will feed into the work of the Technical Alliance and Consultative Stakeholder Group, which are part of the Healthy Rivers project, ensuring we get expert and stakeholder input into the way ahead for the Waikato and Waipa rivers.””

Staff are currently developing a proposed programme of work in Waikato to support the new study’s objectives.

The council’s policy group manager Vaughan Payne said Joint Venture Studies was a great way for the council, the WRA and industry to contribute to good analysis feeding into the development of national policies.

“Through collaborating with others we can share costs, while the results assist national evidence gathering and the development of local water quality policy.”