Subsidy wanted for water-quality plan

Targeted rates are all about give and take for Clutha District Water Catchments Quality Management Project manager Hamish Anderson.

The Otago Regional Council, under its proposed targeted rate for farmers, to address a $2 million programme to implement and enforce new water-quality rules, would have them pay 41% of the total cost, or $813,000.

If that money was levied from farmers, Mr Anderson said he would ask that it be used to subsidise a Clutha farmer group which was helping the council achieve its aims.

''We all want to achieve the results - the end game is better water quality,'' he said.

''Give us some of the money farmers are paying. Give it back to us to do our education and the 'helping role', to help farmers achieve that result.''

In the Clutha water quality project more than 200 farmers were expected to contribute $52,000 to test water as it left their property.

The project team, which included ORC representation, also met one of the stated goals in the regional council's consultation document to have farmers reach compliance ''by working with key stakeholders who can educate and advise landholders of recommended methods and practices'', he said.

''It would be a sign of commitment on the part of the ORC to use every avenue and use the best possible methods to achieve the exact same results that we want to achieve,'' Mr Anderson said.

''A lot of this [the water quality project] is not about complying with rules, it's about market access and the ability to farm into the future.''

The proposed targeted rates in the ORC's long-term plan for 2015-25 as revealed last week in the consultation document were ''a surprise, but not a surprise'' for Mr Anderson, who has also spent 15 years as a Clutha district councillor.

He said he could appreciate the attitude of ''if you do something, someone's got to pay''.

But his submission to the regional council would request a subsidy for the three-year, $250,000 water-quality plan he had developed over the past year for farmers in seven degraded Clutha catchments.

When the regional council made its consultation document public, Otago Federated Farmers chairman Stephen Korteweg called the targeted rates ''heavy handed''.

He said farmers were already paying their fair share.

Submissions are due by May 4.

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