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Community Voice For Flood Protection Formalised

Waikato regional councillors have today voted to formalise a community advisory voice by setting up subcommittees in areas paying the most for flood protection and drainage assets.

Two advisory subcommittees will meet on matters relevant to the council’s flood protection programmes in the Lower Waikato and Waihou-Piako zones, and two drainage advisory subcommittees will be established in each of the Waikato and Thames Valley catchments.

Stu Husband, chair of the council’s river and catchment management committee, had convened informal stakeholder group meetings in the Lower Waikato and Waihou-Piako zones during early March.

At today’s council meeting he got a majority backing from councillors to formalise an advisory arrangement.

“Since disestablishing the catchment and drainage committees last November, we’ve been exploring new ways of obtaining effective input from community members and stakeholders targeted to our most significant regional assets.

“It’s become clear that we do need some sort of formal process in place, but one that’s not going to come at a big cost,” Cr Husband said.

The four advisory subcommittees to the river and catchment management committee will comprise a mix of targeted ratepayers, iwi representatives and stakeholder interests.

The terms of reference for the subcommittees, including how appointments will be made, is still to be decided. But to curtail meeting costs, members will not be compensated.

“Landowners in these catchments pay a fair amount of money through targeted rates for significant flood protection and drainage assets. It’s their money and their land being protected, and that’s why it’s so important they have an avenue to provide us with advice, support and feedback,” Cr Husband said.

He said other parts of the region remained within the scope of the river and catchment management committee.

Waikato Regional Council chair Russ Rimmington said the move reflected the organisation’s vision, agreed last month, of ‘empowering our people, caring for our place’.

“Since being elected last October, we’ve taken a hard look at our strategy for the next 10 years and we’ve committed to encouraging communities to take action. Setting up these subcommittees is keeping us in step with our new strategy. We want to walk the talk and that’s what we’ve done today,” Cr Rimmington said.

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