More than $13 million will be needed over the next 10 years to carry out soil conservation, flood protection and river management work considered essential in Environment Waikato’s Middle Waipa management zone.
The scope of the work and attendant costs have been outlined at a meeting of the Middle Waipa Liaison Sub-committee by Project Watershed staff.
Project Watershed is a two year programme aimed at developing a catchment-wide approach to river management and funding, based on six separate management zones.
The scale of the proposed soil conservation work is massive, but reflects the fact that no such works have been previously carried out by Environment Waikato within the Middle Waipa zone, which stretches from Otorohanga to the Waipa River confluence with the Waikato River at Ngaruawahia.
Environment Waikato staff have identified seven priority areas for soil conservation work in the Middle Waipa Zone:
It is estimated that 8718 hectares is at risk of severe erosion within the Middle Waipa zone, with a further 16,342 hectares consider a moderate risk. Nearly 350 kilometres of stream bank is considered to be an existing or potential erosion problem.
Project Watershed proposals are for 749 ha of pole planting ($749,000), 845 ha of block planting ($1,042,000) and 248 km of fencing within the hill country areas of the zone ($2,309,000), over a 10 year period.
Riparian protection proposals are for fencing 1084 km of stream bank ($3,468,800), riparian planting of 976 km ($3,145,500) and providing alternative water supplies over 1084 km ($542,000).
In addition, Project Watershed staff have recommended a further $345,000 be spent over 10 years on flood protection works in the Mangawhero Stream/Kawa Basin ($250,000), Turitea Stream ($36,000) and $59,000 on isolated willow clearance.
River management initiatives expected to cost around $140,000 per year will see work carried out in the Puniu and Waipa Rivers and the Kaniwhaniwha, Moakurarua, Mangaohoi, Mangaorongo, Mangapiko, Mangatutu, Mangwhero, Ngakoaohia, Owairaka, Turitea and Waitomo Streams.
Project Watershed staff are currently carrying out an informal consultation programme to identify an acceptable level of work to be included in a draft management plan for the whole Waikato catchment that will be put out for formal consultation in June.
Environment Waikato chairman Neil Clarke says if local people have an early input then the outcome is more likely to match their community’s expectations.