Mayor, deputy clash over Waitaki water plan

Alex Familton
Alex Familton
Waitaki Mayor Alex Familton and deputy mayor Jim Hopkins have clashed over a water management plan for the upper Waitaki catchment, which Mr Familton hoped would get unanimous support from councillors.

Cr Hopkins, who was chairman of the Waitaki District Council committee on Tuesday considering what to do with the Upper Waitaki zone implementation programme (a water plan for the Waitaki catchment west of the Waitaki dam) said he would be voting against recommendations to receive it.

That brought a strong response from Mr Familton and some other councillors who wanted unanimous support, which a plan for the lower Waitaki catchment had received, for the recommendations.

Cr Hopkins then abstained from voting, with all other councillors supporting the four recommendations.

Jim Hopkins
Jim Hopkins
The final zone implementation programme was presented to Tuesday's committee meeting by members of the Upper Waitaki zone committee, set up by the council, Mackenzie District Council and Environment Canterbury with community representatives to reach consensus on how water should be managed in that area.

Zone committee members outlined individual aspects of the programme to reach specific aims agreed to after community consultation.

When it came to discussing the programme, there was praise from most of the members of the Waitaki council committee.

However, Cr Hopkins was not satisfied with some aspects of the plan, including provisions for use of water for economic development and a lack of a budget if the Waitaki council was to face costs helping implement it.

Cr Hopkins questioned why the zone committee had not prepared costings, and said he would vote against the plan.

Cr Geoff Keeling said it was ironic the Lower Waitaki zone programme had been accepted unanimously by the Waitaki council when it also did not have budgets.

Mr Familton found Cr Hopkin's stance "very puzzling".

"I will be terribly disappointed if we do not send the [zone] committee out with a unanimous decision," Mr Familton said.

Cr Hopkins abstained from voting and all other councillors recommended the council receive the programme; noted its content as contributing to the Canterbury Water Management Strategy in the upper Waitaki; endorsed the programme, its work programmes and implementation for the council's long-term plan and Waitaki district plan; and noted the programme had to be considered by Environment Canterbury.


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