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Proposal to charge fee for irrigation

PEOPLE taking water for irrigation will have to pay a fee if the full council approves a recommendation from the environmental, planning and regulations committee.

The committee was told the fee was needed to meet the administration costs of supplying data required under the Resource Management Act by the Ministry for the Environment.

From November this year all water takes of more than five litres a second must comply with the regulations.

Shared sciences manager Lois Easton said there were 156 water consent holders.

The proposed fees the council was charging were at the lower end of the scale. They varied according to the water take.

The 11 major users would be required to provide the data daily while smaller ones would do so on a weekly basis.

It was estimated the fees would raise about $22,000. At present this was met from water rates charged across the district from a budget of $1.5 million.

The fees would apply for the irrigation season, which usually extended from October 1 to April 30.

In answer to a question, environmental and regulatory services group manager Kevin Strongman said separate arrangements were being made for non-profit organisations such as schools and golf clubs.

Amber Dunn questioned why those who did not actually take any water would still have to pay a $72 fee and said this should be looked at.

Cost in recording equipmentRoger Haisman said the fees were relatively cheap but the cost would come from having to pay for the recording equipment.

Although he used only a small amount of water he had been forced to buy a meter at a cost of $1000.

The council had acquired a lot of high-tech gear, which water users would have to match. That would cost much more for a big water user.

The water conservation budget was $1.5 million and the extra costs for water users because of this fee would bring in only $22,152, said Mr Haisman. Why could it not be paid for the way it had always been?

The people who provided the information had to pay the cost of doing that. Now the council was hitting them again.

Ms Easton said the council had been absorbing it but every year it had more requirements imposed on it. Additional staff had been taken on in the past year.

The council had to be aware, particularly with the Makauri Aquifer, of not letting the cost run away or creating a brake on development.

Committee chairwoman Pat Seymour asked if the Ministry would pay the cost of collecting this data.

Ms Easton said it would not. The Gisborne council was paying the price for the mismanagement of water resources in other regions.

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