Candidates sought for water committee

North Otago people have been urged to get involved in "a really exciting time" for water management in their area.

The plea came at an Environment Canterbury (ECan) public meeting in Oamaru on Thursday night to promote the formation of a Lower Waitaki-South Canterbury coastal zone committee which will involve the community in managing water resources in the lower Waitaki catchment and Waimate district.

The committee is one of 10 being set up by ECan under the Canterbury Water Management Strategy.

The southernmost zone committee includes part of North Otago in the Canterbury region, the boundary coming down the Maerewhenua River and following the south bank of the Waitaki River to the coast.

It goes as far west as the Waitaki dam and north to the Pareora River.

That leaves a major part of the lower Waitaki Plains, which uses water from the Waitaki River, excluded because it falls under the Otago Regional Council.

That issue was raised by some of the 20 people at the meeting, who saw "the line on the map" as "a big barrier, psychologically".

It was an area that would be economically affected by decisions made by the zone committee.

It could also affect people's decisions to serve on the committee.

However, ECan representatives at the meeting said members of the committee did not have to live in the area it covered.

Members had to show a strong interest in water management in the catchment, regardless of where they lived.

ECan's zone facilitator, Barbara Nicholas, said talks were planned with the Otago Regional Council on how the structure could be made to work across the two councils' boundary.

"It's a really exciting time to be involved in water management," she said.

Expressions of interest in serving on the committee close with ECan on August 13.

People have to put their names forward.

A working group of ECan, Waitaki and Waimate District Council representatives will compile a short-list of candidates and then make a recommendation to all three councils on the appointments.

They will join appointed representatives from ECan (commissioner Peter Skelton), Waitaki and Waimate councils and Ngai Tahu runanga on the committee.

Committee members will receive an annual honorarium of $2000, the deputy chairman $3000 and chairman $5000.

It is planned to have the zone committee in place next month.

A zone committee will be formed for the upper Waitaki catchment early next year under the auspices of ECan, the Waitaki and Mackenzie district councils.



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