15 Apr 2009

Farmers may have to pay more for water

3:50 pm on 15 April 2009

A Northland farmer representative says they'll be keeping a watching brief on plans by the regional council to increase water charges to help pay for a stocktake of water resources and allocation.

The council is proposing user-pays fee ranging from $20 to $700, as well as a 10% increase in service fees and charges levied on water consent holders.

The council's groundwater management specialist, Susie Osbaldiston, says many of the region's water resources are already highly allocated and are under increasing pressure.

And there's a risk of over-allocation and increased restrictions on water use in dry periods, unless the council introduces a more rigorous allocation system.

She says that won't happen for a few years, because first the council needs to learn more about the region's water resources.

The Northland president of Federated Farmers, Ian Walker, who's also a regional councillor, says farmers and horticulturists would benefit from having a better-managed water resource and a secure supply .