Unprecedented level of river funding
The Waikato River Authority has increased the funding its making available for the restoration and wellbeing of the Waikato and Waipaa river catchments this year to an unprecedented level.
It is also the first time the Authority has increased its total funding amount after receiving applications.
Authority Chief Executive, Bob Penter, says an Authority Board decision to increase the funding allocation level from $6 million to $7.3 million speaks volumes for the quality and number of projects.
“The Authority had set aside $6 million for the current funding round. However, the quality of applications deserving of funding this year had greatly exceeded that amount.
“The Board decided that this year it could lift the available funding as result of a lower funding amount awarded last year,” he says.
A total of 47 projects will receive $7.3 million in the seventh funding round for the Authority.
There were several large-scale projects that received funding this year. This includes a multi-agency project led by the Department of Conservation to protect and restore the wetlands around Lake Whangape which received $960,000; and a project to improve water quality, biodiversity and fisheries along 16km of the Puniu River being led by Puniu RiverCare – a marae based social enterprise in the Waipaa catchment – which received $777,000. Both of these projects recently received funding from the Ministry for the Environment Freshwater Improvement Fund, collectively bringing more than $1.8m into river and wetland restoration in the Waikato catchment.
Another project to receive funding is the restoration of the upper Kukutaruhe Stream and gully in the Hamilton suburb of Fairfield. Once completed this gully system will be one of the largest areas of restored biodiversity within city boundaries. The project site is closely connected to Fairfield College, the Donny Park Reserve and Aratiatia marae making it strongly linked to environmental education of students and the local community.
Mr Penter says increasing public awareness around freshwater quality issues is being matched in the Waikato and Waipaa catchments by a strong commitment to bring about change and improvement.
“We feel that as an Authority we are able to continuously improve the direction and priority setting for funded activities as we gather more information, and this is now being met with projects that strongly support the Vision & Strategy for the rivers,” he says.
In the past seven years of funding, the Waikato River Authority has allocated more than $38 million to 248 projects.