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Managing land use change and Council's administered drainage areas

TR 2014/13

Report: TR 2014/13

Author: M Wood (Wainui Consulting Ltd)

About this report

In the Waikato region there are many rural areas that are very flat and have limited natural drainage outlets.  Over time, networks of drains have been developed within these areas to provide adequate land drainage to support pastoral farming and to alleviate flooding.  Without these drainage networks, these areas of land would be unproductive and inaccessible.  Many of these areas have been formalised to constitute land drainage areas.

Waikato Regional Council is responsible for administering many of these drainage areas, and at the time of this report's preparation was responsible for managing and maintaining drain networks within 92 separate areas in the region.  Four drainage advisory subcommittees have been established to oversee the management of the drainage areas; Aka Aka/Otaua, Franklin Waikato, Waikato central and Thames Valley.  Areas that are not managed by Waikato Regional Council are administered by the relevant territorial authority (TA).

Levels of service have been agreed upon for the drainage areas that relate to their rural use and the drainage requirements that are necessary to ensure the land’s productivity and accessibility without too greater financial burden on those that benefit from the drainage areas.

There are several drainage areas that are located in close proximity to Hamilton and proposed future urban growth within the city means that the extent of the urbanised area is encroaching closer to these drainage areas.  The drainage systems in the drainage areas are designed for rural runoff and not for urban (residential and non-residential) runoff.  Hence the interaction between urban drainage and the land drainage areas needs to be carefully managed by the TAs and Waikato Regional Council.  Hamilton City Council is currently preparing Integrated Catchment Management Plans (ICMPs) for the new urban growth areas within the Hamilton city limits.

This report has been developed to provide background information about the Waikato Regional Council administered land drainage areas and to highlight the issues associated with land use change in close proximity to, and within, the land drainage areas.  Discussion is provided about what assessment is required if a proposal is potentially impacting on a land drainage area and a process is mapped out on how to move projects forward in these circumstances.

The report includes the following sections:

  • Land Drainage Areas - this section provides the background to the drainage areas, the administrative set up, the drainage objectives, a description of the areas themselves, the operational requirements, design standards, access requirements, funding and review of the drainage areas.
  •  Land use change – this section provides background on land use change, urban growth around Hamilton, rural residential land use change, issues relating to land use change and a brief discussion about land use change in catchments draining to natural receiving environments.
  •  Required assessment – this section provides discussion about the required assessment of effects of development proposals on drainage areas and the implication of land use change on funding requirements.  This section also outlines a recommended process to follow when undertaking a proposed development in the vicinity of a drainage area.
  •  Conclusion – Summary of the outcomes of the findings report.

Read or download the report

Managing land use change and Council's administered drainage areas [PDF, 3.2 MB]


  Executive summary 
1 Introduction
2 Land drainage areas
2.1 Background
2.2 Administrative structure
2.3 District council administered areas
2.4 Drainage objectives
2.5 Drainage area descriptions
2.5.1 Aka Aka drainage area
2.5.2 Franklin Waikato drainage area
2.5.3 Waikato Central drainage area
2.5.4 Thames Valley drainage area
2.6 Operational requirements
2.7 Design standards
2.7.1 Background
2.7.2 Drain, culvert and floodgate capacity
2.7.3 Drain, culvert invert levels
2.7.4 Pumpstation capacity
2.7.5 Key operation issues
2.8 Access
2.9 Funding
2.10 Review of land drainage areas
3 Land use change
3.1 Background
3.2 Hamilton urban growth
3.3 Rural residential land use change
3.4 Issues
3.5 Natural systems
4 Information requirements
4.1 Introduction
4.2 Scale of proposed development
4.2.1 Information requirements for small scale subdivision (Category 2)
4.2.2 Information requirements for larger scale development (Category 3)
4.3 Funding
4.4 Land ownership
4.5 Process
5 Conclusions
  Appendix 1: Hamilton future growth
  Appendix 2: Information requirements for small scale subdivision