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Project Watershed to identify future catchment service needs

Environment Waikato has launched a major project to address issues of flood protection, soil erosion and river water quality in the greater Waikato catchment.

The Regional Council has begun an advertising campaign to raise public awareness about the future of river management services. Those services include soil conservation works, flood protection and other river management works such as minor channel improvements, removing trees and logs from the river, and gravel movements.

"Project Watershed" will look at what river management services should be provided in the future in the greater Waikato catchment, which includes the Waikato and Waipa Rivers and their tributaries, and how these services might be funded.

Project manager Nath Pritchard said the greater Waikato catchment is currently divided into six sub-catchment areas, each managed separately.

"It’s not ideal, because the catchments are all interlinked. What happens in one sub-catchment impacts on the next," Mr Pritchard said.

"We need to treat the greater Waikato catchment as a single entity if we are to maximise the benefits of services provided and minimise costs to ratepayers."

Mr Pritchard said government money is no long available for river management services and a long-term management plan is needed to identify the services that each community wants.

Environment Waikato has launched a consultation programme around "Project Watershed" to encourage individuals, groups and organisations to have an input into future services at a local level and how they should be funded.

A toll free number 0800 WECONSULT (932 667) has also been set up to provide information about the project.

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