Your river, your views
Consultation on a new Waiōhine River Plan will close on 30 July at 5pm and people throughout the Wairarapa are being urged to get involved and have their say on the future of one of the valley's most significant rivers.
The plan simplifies extensive work by Greater Wellington into flood protection options, undertaken before scheme management was devolved to the broader community with continuing support from the regional council.
"The outcome we've delivered for consideration is an affordable flood protection plan that will protect public safety while preserving, as far as possible, the natural character and cultural values of the river," says Greater Wellington Councillor and Waiōhine Steering Group chair Adrienne Staples.
The plan will reflect an updated approach to flood protection at Greater Wellington, which treads a fine line between meeting the interests of the people and their assets, and environmental protection.
It lays out a 70 plus-year vision for better flood protection and the gradual improvement and restoration of a living corridor, pristine water, flora and fauna (including aquatic species) for better environmental, cultural, social and economic outcomes, for the river, from the gorge to the confluence with the Ruamāhanga River.
"We've taken an approach that was endorsed by the Wairarapa public some years ago. Since then, the Waiōhine project team has refined its proposals, and now the public must have its say on the progress we've made."
Crucially, the River Plan lowers costs to around $2 million, a reduction by $8 million on an earlier proposal, while maintaining standards delivered by previous investment in flood protection and management of the Waiōhine.
"It's a balancing act," says Cr Staples. "While affordability was important, so were broader outcomes such as improving the river to ensure it's a corridor of clean water, native flora and fauna, tikanga and beautiful spaces.
In 2017 the call was for a community-led flood protection plan, and that is what the project group has created. The Waiōhine Action Group must be congratulated for playing a key role in getting us to this point. It's now up to the community to take up the baton and take ownership by giving us full and frank feedback."
Once the full plan completes its consultation period, a panel will hear oral submissions from the public in August. The plan will then be amended as necessary in response to feedback before presentation to the Greater Wellington's council for endorsement.
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