Carrying out the water take policy
Waikato Regional Council is planning how it will work with farmers required to apply for water take consents under the council’s new water allocation policy.
The policy, variation 6 to the council’s regional plan, was endorsed by the Environment Court late last year.
The period for appeals has now passed, clearing the way for the council to begin implementing the policy.
The council’s resource use division manager Brent Sinclair said his team was now doing detailed planning to ensure farmers in different areas were aware of their responsibilities under variation 6.
The council will also work with the agricultural sector to develop the most efficient way for farmers to meet those responsibilities.
‘‘In due course, farmers will be contacted to advise them how to proceed through the consenting process,’’ Mr Sinclair said.
Federated Farmers Waikato Branch said it wanted answers as soon as possible on the key details. Outstanding questions included how much the resource consents and the monitoring would cost, and who would do the monitoring, the federation’s Waikato president James Houghton said.
‘‘The scary thing is this has the potential to be expensive. For a very large dairy farm we expect it will cost about $28,000 for the resource consent and about $10,000 for ongoing costs,’’ Mr Houghton said.
‘‘We need to know, will the council do the monitoring or is it looking at others doing that? Is it going to mean more staff will have to be employed by the regional council to do the monitoring?
‘‘We want to ensure there are productive outcomes from this process and that it is not just empire building or revenue gathering by the council,’’ he said. The federation is working with the council and is urging the council to hold farmer field days throughout Waikato in the next three months to explain the practical effects.
Mr Sinclair said it had been hard for the council to get on with more detailed planning until it had the final court decision and knew there would be no appeals.
‘‘However, we are now putting a lot of energy into this planning process,’’ he said. Mr Sinclair said the council was looking at a range of options for communicating with farmers, including existing farming networks and organisations such as Federated Farmers, Fonterra, Dairynz and others.
The council plans to have information on variation 6 available at the Waikato Effluent Expo later this month and at National Fieldays mid-year.
‘‘We are also considering getting information to farmers in different areas in a phased way, alerting them to the need to make consent applications,’’ he said.