Waikato Regional Council will change the way it charges fresh water take consent holders for state of the environment monitoring and reporting it undertakes.
During deliberations on the 2016/17 Annual Plan yesterday, the council voted unanimously in favour of maintaining the basis of setting charges on the volume of water allocated per day in each consent, with the addition of a fixed fee of $65. However, the rate changes from 53 cents to 37 cents per cubic metre up to 30,000 cubic metres per day, and from 10 cents to 12 cents per cubic metre thereafter.
“In making our decision we’ve considered a huge amount of information from staff and submitters, as well as independent experts,” said council chairperson, Paula Southgate.
“But it’s clear from the volume of submissions it’s important to bring stakeholders together on this issue ahead of the 2017/18 Annual Plan,” she said.
As such, the council agreed during deliberations to convene a stakeholder working group to look at issues raised through submissions. Terms of reference for the group are still to be confirmed.
“We know there will be some sectors who submitted strongly for an alternative charging option and will be disappointed with our decision,” said Cr Southgate.
“But the decision was supported by an independent economist who reviewed the charging regime and evaluated it against economic efficiency, equity, simplicity, transparency and justifiability. He concluded that the council’s preferred option, which included a minimum fixed fee, was appropriate,” she said.
The charge helps the council recover part of the cost of understanding and managing Waikato’s fresh water resources through state of the environment monitoring and research.
In March, the council sought submissions from the public on three charging options. The council received 193 submissions on the water take consents proposal, with the majority of submitters supporting the current method of applying charges.
There are about 2500 water take consents issued by Waikato Regional Council, and another 1350 applications in progress. The council will be writing to them all to explain the decision.
The 2016/17 Annual Plan is due to be adopted at a special meeting of council on Wednesday, 29 June.