Council has decided to go ahead with taking a more active role in maintaining rural public drains. This decision was made after consultation with the public during the Long Term Plan development process.
Council used to only maintain less than 10 per cent of rural public drains each year and we relied on all landowners doing their bit to keep their drains clean but this didn't always happen. We will now be maintaining 100 per cent of rural public drains each year. This will cost $322,000 in the first year and involves inspecting and, if necessary, spraying all rural public drains each year.
What's happening now
Because most of our drains haven't been maintained for quite few years, we need to start by inspecting all of them to see what work needs to be done.
We have made initial contact with land owners to let them know we will be starting inspections around the end of October. Once we have worked out an inspection schedule, we will get in contact with land owners again to let them know when we will be inspecting their Council-managed drains. The inspection work is weather dependent because when the drains aren't full, we get a better idea of what maintenance work is required.
Also at the end of October (weather dependent), we will start spraying the roadside drains that we maintain. This is a good time of year to do it as we can spray the weeds at the right stage of their growth cycle.
Frequently asked questions
How do I know if I have a drain on my land that Council is responsible for maintaining?
You can search here using our mapping system, but the easiest way is to contact us on 0800 924 723 and we can let you know. Please note, you should have already received a letter from Council with a map identifying the drains we are responsible for maintaining. If you are unsure, please contact us.
Why is there a change to how you maintain drains?
We have been very reactive rather than proactive in the past in regard to our rural drainage network.
This reactive approach has resulted in a number of flooding issues and blockages and generally a poor performing network. A number of land owners have taken it on themselves to clean the drains, which is great. However, in some cases, no maintenance work was done which has led to more blockages and neighbourly disputes when other land owners don't do their bit.
The change means we will be playing a more proactive role in maintaining these drains resulting in less flooding and blockage issues.
What are the benefits of doing more to maintain the drains?
They key benefit is that water will be able to flow more freely away from your property. This will allow low lying areas to drain faster reducing the impact that the water has on your farm.
We also hope that by doing regular spraying we will be able to reduce the number of noxious weeds that grow in the drains.
Can I just do it myself?
No. The reason for this is that the drain on your property is part of a larger network of drains (our largest interconnected network has approx. 50km of rural drains), and your actions may affect the rest of the network. Some drain work may also require a resource consent from Waikato Regional Council. We are happy to work with you and we may even ask for help to ensure we are all working together for the benefit of the network.
Will you tell us when you will be visiting my farm?
Yes. We will contact you closer to the time when we have confirmed our inspection programme. We will let you know by letter unless you get in touch with us and let us know a better method of contacting you.
We will let you know a window when one of our inspectors will be visiting and you can let us know whether that time works and if there are any hazards we need to be aware of.
Do I need to be on site when you visit?
No you don't. As above - as long as you tell us if there are any hazards we need to be aware of.
What spray do you use?
We use Glphosate. Any other type of spray that may be required will be discussed with the land owner on a case by case basis.
I don't want you using sprays on my farm (organic farmer), do I have a choice?
Please call us ASAP if this is the case so we can discuss how we can work around this.