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River hearings due to start

Most of the submissions were about the Waingawa River, particularly at Upper Plain and at south Masterton, and the Waipoua urban reach through Masterton. PHOTO/FILE

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Of the 61 submissions received on the Te Kauru Flood Management Plan, 40 are opposed, 13 are neutral and eight are in favour.

The issues raised ranged from opposition to giving the river more space, to concerns about who pays for flood mitigation work and the need to wait for an independent report.

There is also a push for a community-led process similar to that in place for the Waiohine River, and a report to the subcommittee dealing with the project says Greater Wellington Regional Council is happy to work with community groups.

Submitters included residents who live or farm on the river, environmental groups, district councillors Gary Caffell Graham McClymont and Chris Peterson, as well as a late submission from Carterton District Council.

Anyone who raised the issue of water storage and quality is told that is part of the Ruamahuna Whaitua process.

Officials said funding would be implemented through changes to the regional council long-term plan through a review of revenue and financial policy and there will be a public consultation before it happens.

The plan is about how to manage flood risks for the next 30 to 40 years for the upper reaches of the Ruamahanga River to the Waiohine confluence, and includes the Waipoua, Waingawa, Kopuaranga, Whangaehu, and Taueru [Tauweru] rivers.

A consultation ran from March 13 to April 14. The regional council subcommittee in charge meets in Masterton today and 13 submitters will be heard today and tomorrow.

An independent audit of the hydrology and hydraulic modelling process is being undertaken by Land River Sea Consulting Ltd, which is due on May 17, the reports to the committee say.

Twenty-four submitters wanted the consultation extended so they could submit with knowledge of the audit.

The audit comes after peer reviews for both the hydrology and the hydraulic modelling by consultants jointly engaged by Masterton District Council and regional council.

Most of the submissions were about the Waingawa River, particularly at Upper Plain and at south Masterton, and the Waipoua urban reach through Masterton.

Some people are worried that giving the river more space meant it would erode private land and there would be no compensation, and it would also affect the value of land adjacent to rivers.

“It is important to note that we are not proposing to change the width of the buffers at this stage except in four isolated locations that have already been discussed with landowners,” the reports say.

Ross Cottle and Graeme Tulloch, in a joint submission, oppose the plan to acquire land from adjoining properties to create margins to allow the river to meander. They argue this will cause a lot of erosion, will put a lot of sediment into the river, and will replace good soil with gravel.

Yet Sustainable Wairarapa notes strong support for the development of wider buffer zones interplanted with natives and wider river channels.

And Fish and Game says the plan provides a positive first step away from the engineering-heavy approach to river management by incorporating the simple principle of “allowing the river more room to move”.

Megan Flynn of TWL Property Holdings does not support the proposed funding model where river works are funded by the entire rating base. This will allow the regional council to rate directly all properties for future river works programmes rather than the few who directly benefit.

Rangitane o Wairarapa believes better information is needed on the funding of the scheme and those that are not in the scheme should not have to pay for it.

“Where has all the water gone, the quality and quantity, no deep pools for swimming, a lot more stagnant pools, slow water down to recharge acquifer,” is a summary of the Rangitane submission in a report. They want better monitoring of low flows.

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