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Published: 2002-03-14 00:00:00

Hamilton ratepayers have been well represented in developing Project Watershed, according to Middle Waikato Liaison Committee chair Lois Livingston.

Responding to City Councillor Brian Impson’s claims that city residents have had less than a month to put their views on the project and were being asked to pay more than their fair share, she said lengthy negotiations had been undertaken to ensure Hamilton was well served by Project Watershed.

“Cr Impson has stated that Hamilton ratepayers are being asked to pay more than their fair share for the flood protection, soil erosion and bank stability scheme being put forward by Environment Waikato. This statement is incorrect and I am disappointed with Mr Impson’s intention to spread misinformation to Hamilton’s ratepayers.

“Hamilton City has been well represented on the committee. Environment Waikato has worked with the various communities, including Hamilton City, for two years to establish a fair and equitable rating scheme to achieve the works and services necessary to maintain and enhance the type and level of services that people want for their rivers.

“Hamilton City Council currently spends approximately $360,000 per annum for these types of works. It is intended that these works will be funded in the future under Project Watershed and are included in the total annual cost to the Region.”

She said that cost did not include expenditure on one-off projects, which was currently funded from Hamilton City Council’s General Rate.

“Also included in the cost to Hamilton City is a further $250,000 of additional work per year. When provision for these one-off works is included, the total to be spent annually in Hamilton will be approximately $680,000. This may include some works to streams outside the Hamilton boundary but which is for the express benefit of Hamilton City.”

“Mr Impson - who has attended only one meeting, is doing his representatives on Project Watershed (former Councillor Grant Thorburn and works Manager Leroy Leach) a disservice through his allegations.

This Scheme is just one example of the work that Environment Waikato is doing to effect changes for the better in our river, says Councillor Livingston.

“Hamilton City will benefit in many ways from this project. It includes continued protection of walkways, parks, reserves and property, further protection of riverbanks and gully outlets from erosion, works to control and stabilise the effects of the erosion and deepening of the river bed through Hamilton City to protect bridges, other facilities and property. It also includes works that will enhance recreational opportunities in the lakes and other reaches of the Waikato River through better quality and clarity of water through reduced sedimentation.

“Our surveys show that the vast majority of Hamiltonians and people throughout the Waikato Region see the future of our major rivers and waterbodies as the number one environmental concern. We need everyone in our Region to contribute to their future,” she said.