Friday, February 23, 2024

Water volunteers seek steady funding stream

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Catchment groups doing ‘phenomenal’ work on very tight budgets.
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Catchment groups are seeking changes to the way they are funded, and want a structure that allows the sharing of knowledge between groups.

The two issues were highlighted at a Landcare Trust-organised National Catchment Forum in Wellington this week.

Lloyd McCall from the Pomahaka Water Care Group in West Otago called for steady, uncontested and ongoing funding for all groups to provide some equality and avoid a situation of groups that have and groups that do not.

“A set funding stream is needed,” he said.

“From there, have further contestable funding in place for additional projects. Both central government and local councils need to come to us, and work with us on funding,” he said.

McCall said his group is fortunate to have been one of the “haves” with funding in recent years but adds that it is harder for those who have not been in that situation.

Amanda Bell, the chair and programme director of the WAI Wānaka group, said there needs to be a process for groups to share knowledge, to ensure each group isn’t always starting “from scratch” but knows what works and what does not.

“We’ve got a lot of the answers already between all of us, a real community of practices,” she said.

With tight budgets, Bell said, the sharing of knowledge helps make budgets go further and ensures new groups do not have to start from scratch.

NZ Landcare Trust chief executive officer Dr Nick Edgar described the work being done by these groups as “phenomenal” even thought it is heavily reliant on grassroot volunteers and often has very tight budgets.

“We have heard some inspirational stories today of work being done by catchment groups and the strong, connected communities they have been established by,” said Edgar.

“We just need to continue to build and connect these groups to achieve positive change for our country’s waterways.”

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