19 Jul 2020

Waikato Regional Council reinstates some catchment committees

2:08 pm on 19 July 2020

The Waikato Regional Council is bringing back some of the 12 catchment committees it dis-established eight months ago.

A bridge over the Waikato River near Tuakau.

Waikato River near Tūākau. Photo: Unsplash / Jan Kaluza

The committees which looked after flood protection and land drainage in the Lower Waikato and Waihou-Piako zones were disestablished when a report cited them costing $1.9 million per year to run.

River and Catchment Management Committee chair Councillor Stu Husband said he voted against getting rid of them last year because it was important for ratepayers to be heard.

"The aim of the catchment committee was to put a community lens over our operational and capital work on the flood schemes," he said.

"I was always of the opinion that these committees were far too valuable to dis-establish."

Husband said that council agreed to re-establish them last week.

Two advisory subcommittees will be set up to look at flood protection in Lower Waikato and Waihou-Piako zones, and drainage advisory subcommittees will be established in each of the Waikato and Thames Valley catchments.

Landowners who paid a lot through rates for land drainage or flood protection needed the chance to provide advice, support and feedback to the council's operation, Husband said.

"I managed to convince the council of that and thanked them for allowing these to return, because ratepayers in these areas [need their] voice in council," he said.

The regional council is now looking for ratepayers to join the committee.

Husband said that anyone interested was welcome to put their name forward.

"Obviously farmers are the most effected by flood and drainage issues and we are encouraging them to step up but we also want a wide range of views from people in urban areas too," Husband said.

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