ORC seeks comment on flood protection

Interested members of the public can have their say this week on the correct public versus private benefit mix of flood protection and drainage schemes in the Taieri and Lower Clutha catchments.

This comes after the Otago Regional Council agreed to review the public versus private benefit of the four flood protection and drainage schemes in the two Otago catchments.

The council made this move after earlier feedback from Taieri ratepayers on the fairness of scheme funding, in this year's long term plan.

At that stage, several Taieri ratepayers said Taieri scheme protection provided considerable wider benefits for the public, and the existing ratepayer funding base was too narrow, given the wider public benefits.

In a statement, council corporate services director Nick Donnelly said on Friday the council was consulting on the flood protection benefits issue, and members of the public could attend drop in sessions on the topic in the two catchments next Wednesday.

The review was being done by independent economic consultants Castalia, of Wellington. Part of the review process involved holding two public sessions next week in which those interested could have their say on the benefit of the schemes.

Those attending the drop in sessions would receive a hard copy of the survey, which they could complete, and there was also an online option in which anyone could take part.

The Clutha drop in session starts at 11am on Wednesday at the South Otago Town and Country Club, in Balclutha, and runs until 2pm.

The same day, a second drop in session will be held at the West Taieri Memorial Hall in Outram from 7pm to 9.30pm. People in the targeted rating area covered by these schemes had been sent an invitation and information about the consultation process, Mr Donnelly said.

Each of the council's flood and drainage schemes was operated and maintained within clearly defined areas, and the four schemes provided protection for about 41,500ha of Otago land.

And the review focused on what the economic benefits of the schemes were, and how they were divided between public and private benefit.

Castalia was due to report back to the council in February. The council would then decide if any changes were required to scheme funding, which could then be used for consultation as part of the 2016-17 draft annual plan.

-john.gibb@odt.co.nz

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