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Published: 2001-06-07 00:00:00

Existing assets should be maintained but the jury is still out on the need for more catchment services under Environment Waikato’s Project Watershed, for the section of the Waikato River between Whakamaru and Ngaruawahia.

Members of the Middle Waikato Liaison Sub Committee confirmed this week that they supported ongoing maintenance of existing flood protection and river management works, but still want to see what the benefits are for soil conservation projects.

The committee agreed that pilot programmes should be set up and closely monitored so that cost benefit analyses can be done before committing to the full extent of soil conservation work and riparian plantings recommended by Environment Waikato.

Nearly $6 million is required over 10 years to fund the proposed soil conservation and riparian work in the Middle Waikato management zone.

The meeting at Putaruru’s Timber Museum confirmed support for Environment Waikato’s advocacy, information and educational role when it came to promoting sustainable land use but members felt this work could be funded from general rates.

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.

Middle Waikato 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.

“In the Middle Waikato management zone, this includes those who live in urban communities such as Tokoroa, Putaruru, Mangakino, Cambridge, Hamilton and Ngaruwahia.
“Now is the time for them to be taking an interest, if they want their views represented.”