Split vote over Waikato River plan

South Waikato News - - Farming -

A ground­break­ing plan change pro­posal aimed at restor­ing and pro­tect­ing the Waikato and Waipa rivers has been ap­proved by Waikato Re­gional Coun­cil for pub­lic no­ti­fi­ca­tion.

Coun­cil­lors were split 7-7 on a mo­tion to ap­prove and the mea­sure was passed on the cast­ing vote of the chair­per­son Paula South­gate.

It means the Healthy Rivers: Plan for Change/wai Ora: He Rau­taki Whaka­paipai project’s pro­posed plan change is now due to be for­mally pub­licly no­ti­fied next month.

Pub­lic no­ti­fi­ca­tion will be­gin a process whereby the wider com­mu­nity has a for­mal chance to sub­mit on the pro­posed plan change, while new land use change mea­sures take im­me­di­ate ef­fect on no­ti­fi­ca­tion.

‘‘[The] vote marks a ma­jor step on the jour­ney to restor­ing and pro­tect­ing the Waikato and Waipa rivers,’’ said Cr Alan Livingston, co-chair of the Healthy Rivers Wai Ora com­mit­tee.

‘‘The next step fol­low­ing for­mal pub­lic no­ti­fi­ca­tion is to hear what the wider com­mu­nity has to say on the pro­posed plan change.

‘‘We strongly en­cour­age the pub­lic to have their say be­fore this plan change is fi­nalised.‘‘

The pro­posed plan change was pre­pared by a multi-sec­tor Col­lab­o­ra­tive Stake­holder Group (CSG) in­volv­ing iwi, the coun­cil and stake­hold­ers, in­clud­ing the farm­ing sec­tor.

The plan change is de­signed to take the rivers on the first stage of an 80-year jour­ney to­wards be­ing safe for swim­ming and food gath­er­ing along their en­tire length.

The plan change fo­cuses on the con­tam­i­nants ni­tro­gen, phos­pho­rous, pathogens and sed­i­ment get­ting into the rivers.

These can harm the health of wa­ter bod­ies or present risks to peo­ple and stock, and the aim is to re­duce their pres­ence to ac­cept­able lev­els.

Due to the ex­tent of change re­quired, the CSG has rec­om­mended an 80-year staged ap­proach to achiev­ing the wa­ter qual­ity re­quired by the Vi­sion and Strat­egy for the rivers.

The first stage cov­ered by the pro­posed plan change in­volves ac­tions over a decade that will ul­ti­mately re­sult in 10 per cent of the change to­wards achiev­ing Te Ture Whaimana.

Anal­y­sis in­di­cates the mea­sures pro­posed by the CSG will make ma­jor im­prove­ments in bac­te­ria lev­els and some im­prove­ment in phos­pho­rus and sed­i­ment lev­els in the first 10 years.

CHRIS­TEL YARDLEY/FAIR­FAX NZ

The Healthy Rivers Wai Ora no­ti­fi­ca­tion has been agreed on by Waikato Re­gional Coun­cil­lors.

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