Farmer paying for erosion repairs

TERRI RUSSELL
Last updated 05:00 30/07/2013

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A Te Anau basin farmer says he has to fork out thousands of dollars to fix bank erosion on part of the Mararoa River because Environment Southland cannot afford to.

Sheep and beef farmer Max Slee, who farms along a 15-kilometre stretch of the Mararoa River, said he was happy to fix the problem.

He has a five-year consent to do work on the river to manage bank erosion.

The work would cost thousands of dollars but the five-year consent meant he could drip-feed the money into the project, rather than pay a lump sum, he said.

Environment Southland did not have the money to pay for the maintenance work but it had recently approved Mr Slee's consent, he said.

Residents on the upper reaches of the Mararoa River, where Mr Slee farms, had been paying maintenance rates for only about three years and there was not enough money in the rating pool for the work, he said.

Environment Southland chairman Ali Timms, chief executive Rob Phillips and councillor Ross Cockburn visited Mr Slee's property in Te Anau yesterday to discuss the problems at the Mararoa River.

It was a positive meeting and Mr Slee had a consent to stabilise the Mararoa River bank on his property, Ms Timms said.

The claim that Environment Southland did not have the money "was not quite right", she said, as there had been little buildup of funds from the rating to date to fund the maintenance.

However, regardless of the rating money available, that work would always require a private contribution, she said.

Mr Slee said the group discussed the Mararoa River flowing over Mararoa Rd and the bank erosion. "I'd say most farms on the Mararoa would have problems," he said. Environment Southland carried out $40,000 worth of emergency work on the flood-prone Upukerora River last month, where Mr Slee also farms.

The river was an ongoing issue at the property and had cost Mr Slee thousands of dollars.

A buildup of gravel and debris flowing downstream of the Upukerora River was also threatening parts of Te Anau and its two sewage ponds before the emergency work was done.

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- The Southland Times

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