More emphasis on improving water quality in the Region’s rivers and streams, investigating erosion on the coast and flood protection and river management works under the catchment-wide Project Watershed are included in Environment Waikato’s Annual Plan for the coming financial year.
Outlining the draft Annual Plan for the financial year, which begins in July, Chairman Neil Clarke said the Council’s General Rate would increase revenue by $1.782 million. This was in line with predictions in the Strategic Plan, which anticipated the requirements of flood protection and river management, and the need to address urgent water quality issues.
Some additional work was also urgently needed in implementing navigation safety by laws, the development of a regional waste minimisation strategy and protection of biodiversity.
Because the capital value of the Region had increased due to property re-valuations and increased subdivision, the General Rate – about one third of the Council’s total income – would increase by 9.85 percent. The rest of the Council’s income comes from separate rates, government grants, charges, interest, investments and rents.
This is the second year of Environment Waikato’s Strategic Plan, The Way Forward which was released last year. Some of the highlights for the coming year are:
The Waikato is still doing better than Animal Health Board targets for controlling bovine Tb. The number of infected cattle and deer herds is now below two percent, and more gains are expected over the next year. The Animal Health Board has agreed to reduce the Council’s regional contribution to the bovine Tb programme, and the surplus will be used to offset extra costs incurred by the Regional Pest Management Strategy.
The Clean Streams project announced in the Strategic Plan gets underway this year. A total of $10 million has been set aside over 10 years to help landowners fence and plant streams and river banks, wetlands and estuaries to improve water quality and aquatic biodiversity. The main focus next year will be on education and promoting the project.
The Council will be measuring how the Region’s coasts are changing in character, ecology and water quality, and the effects of erosion. It will be asking the community what they value about the coast and their views on issues such as coastal erosion and retaining natural character.
Project Watershed - a major project to develop a funding policy for flood protection, soil conservation and river management in the Waikato and Waipa catchments - will be implemented this year. The consultation phase has decided the level of service the community wants for flood protection, soil conservation and river management in the Waikato River catchment, and decided how they will be funded.
Work will continue on developing measures to protect the water quality of Lake Taupo. A consultative draft plan, which will require changes in land uses, will be released later this year, followed by more consultation with residents, farmers, tourism and fishing operators and other key stakeholders.
A waste reduction strategy will be launched by the end of the year as the Regional Council plays a more active role in waste management. More information will be gathered about how much and what types of solid waste are produced and disposed of in the Region.
Submissions on the draft Plan close on May 15. A full Plan can be obtained from Environment Waikato's Freephone 0800 800 401, or through its website www.ew.govt.nz(external link).