15 Mar 2010

Southland farmers study proposed water charges

6:05 pm on 15 March 2010

Southland farming representatives will look carefully at new water charges the regional council is proposing, to make sure irrigation users in particular aren't burdened with an unfair share of the costs.

The council is planning to introduce an annual charge on resource consents for taking water so it can reduce the amount that general ratepayers contribute towards scientific investigations and monitoring water use.

The charges would be capped at $5000 a year for groundwater consents and $50,000 for surface water.

Federated Farmers' Southland dairy chair Vaughan Templeton says farmers are not against the idea of user pays for monitoring water resources.

However, he says farmers who have been irrigating for years should not have to pay an onerous charge after they have made a huge investment.

Mr Templeton says farmer representatives will meet with the regional council to discuss the water charge plan, which will be open for submissions for six weeks.

Council chief executive Ciaran Keogh says the wider issue is the need to manage Southland's water resources more effectively, following a 10-fold increase in water allocation in the past decade.