River management works

River management works

Also known as the Capital Upgrade Programme, our river management works provide a level of flood protection to build resilience to, and lessen the impacts of, climate change – one of the key areas of focus in both our strategic priorities and community outcomes. In this Long-term Plan we are fortunate to have a number of projects receiving continued co-funding from central government, which in some cases have been there for a number of years. Some examples of these works are as follows.

  • Co-funding from the Provincial Growth Funding for the Te Pūwaha Port Revitalisation Project at the mouth of the Whanganui River will enable the Tanae Groyne construction in 2024-25 and South Spit construction in 2025-26*. Council has chosen to not programme the South Mole upgrade as part of the Long-term Plan due to increasing costs to complete the work. This work forms part of the economic development work to enhance port operation. (*Subject to approval from Kānoa, the Regional Economic Development Unit)
  • Climate resilience funding for the Lower Manawatū, Palmerston North, Rangitīkei and Foxton projects continues on from the 2021-31 Long-term Plan. Planned works include upgrades to the Moutoa floodgates at both ends of the spillway; Rangiotu floodgates and Tokomaru stopbanks; upgrades to Palmerston North stopbanks along the Mangaone Stream near Tremaine Avenue; implementing a “room-for-the-river” movement approach downstream of Bulls Bridge; and flood resilience upgrades in Foxton.
  • The Local Government Flood Resilience Fund, which was established to help regions recover from Cyclone Gabrielle, has provided for flood forecasting, flood modelling, and communication resilience upgrades, as well as a flood vulnerability study for our region in 2024-25. The Pohangina catchment project to reduce the risk to people and infrastructure, including a work programme to establish improved flood protection at Tōtara Reserve, is planned for 2024-25. Through central government’s Nature-based Solutions Programme, a project to investigate a “room-for-the-river” approach will also continue in 2024-25, aiming to identify a more resilient and sustainable river management programme, particularly in the Ōroua/Pohangina area.

Other capital programmes previously committed to by Council but not co-funded by government include further work to design, consent and complete upgrades to flood protection for Feilding township; plans to determine and implement a solution to the flood risk at Te Arakura Road downstream of Feilding township on the Ōroua River; and further work to build resilience in the Mangaone Stream in Palmerston North.

The table over the page shows the funding for the Capital Upgrade Programme for the first three years of the Long-term Plan. Council is taking a consolidation approach to its capital works programme, explained in the ‘What we’re planning for’ section in this document. This will result in a reduction in spending on upgrades as government co-funding reduces to $5.5 million in 2026-27 and then further again from 2027-28. The focus once the co-funding reduces will be on projects in Feilding and Palmerston North. However, rising insurance costs, the appropriate level of insurance, and the funding split of drainage schemes, are key decisions Council are facing around river management and will also influence overall budget.

To read more about the projects listed in this section, as well as longer term projects, see the ‘Catchment operations’ section in ‘Our areas of work’ in the Supporting Information and draft Infrastructure Strategy.

Te Ngaru The Tide bus

Public transport

Our public transport provides a vital transport option for many people in our community. We have urban bus services in the cities of Palmerston North, Whanganui and Feilding; a number of regional commuter services across the region serving the Horowhenua, Manawatū, Rangitīkei, and Ruapehu districts; and we support community vehicles and health shuttles in many districts, including Tararua. We also contribute to the Capital Connection rail service between Palmerston North and Wellington. Our Regional Public Transport Plan sets ambitious targets for growing public transport within the region and the entire transport activity aims to meet Horizons’ strategic priorities and community outcomes related to effective transport networks and climate change.

For this Long-term Plan, Council has committed to an improved network in Palmerston North and changing the funding arrangement for Te Ngaru – The Tide in Whanganui. In early 2023 Council resolved to be the first in the country to implement a fully electric bus network, with this service scheduled to begin in Palmerston North and Ashhurst in March 2024. The new service will provide more than double the level of service compared to previous levels, provide more direct routes and have more coverage in the evenings and weekends. The funding for this service is outlined as below with the rating impact falling 2024-25. There are also provisions for a mid-service review in 2027-28.

*This means that for every $100,000 of your property’s capital value (if based in Palmerston North), the value stated will be charged on your rates each year.

**This activity is rated 100% targeted to properties in the Palmerston North district, which are predominantly urban in character, based on equalised capital value.

For the Te Ngaru – The Tide service in Whanganui, Council has committed to changing the funding arrangement for 2024-25 onwards. Previously the service was part funded by Whanganui District Council and will now be fully funded by Horizons as outlined below

*This means that for every $100,000 of your property’s capital value (if based in Whanganui), the value stated will be charged on your rates each year.

** This activity is rated 100% targeted to properties in the Whanganui district which are predominantly urban in character, based on equalised capital value.

Capital Connection

Finally, Horizons is currently in the procurement stage alongside Greater Wellington Regional Council to deliver improvements to passenger rail services, currently known as the Capital Connection, on the Manawatū line between Palmerston North and Wellington. The improvements, not scheduled to commence until 2028-29, will see four return weekday services between Palmerston North and Wellington and include two return weekend services each day. The final budget implications from those improvements will not be known until the contract and financial commitment is presented to Council in late 2024. These implications are expected to be part of the 2025-26 Annual Plan. The table below shows indicative costs of the increased services based on current capital values in the Palmerston North, Manawatū and Horowhenua districts.

*This means that for every $100,000 of your property’s capital value, the value stated will be charged on your rates each year.

**This activity is rated 50% targeted to properties in the Palmerston North district, 30% targeted to properties in the Horowhenua district and 20% targeted to properties in the Manawatū district, all of which are predominantly urban in character, based on equalised capital value.

People planting poplar poles

Sustainable Land Use Initiative (SLUI)

The voluntary SLUI programme, which encourages landowners to do work to minimise land erosion on their farms, is an important part of the region’s activity to build resilience to climate change and achieve water quality outcomes. Over the life of SLUI more than 670,000 hectares of land have been mapped through SLUI’s Whole Farm Plans service and over 55,000 hectares of erosion control works identified in those plans have been completed.

As freshwater farms plans are becoming a central government requirement for properties over 20 hectares, the SLUI programme will no longer include work to produce Whole Farm Plans over the life of the Long-term Plan. Instead, the major focus of the programme will be on supporting erosion control works. Some farm mapping will be completed to support the identification of priorities and recording the type of land that has received erosion control works. The first three years of the Long-term Plan have government co-funding secured via the Hill Country Erosion Fund that is administered by Te Uru Rākau to deliver on the contract targets that Council has committed to when signing the contract in 2022-23, the Long-term Plan includes a budget increase as outlined below.

*This activity is rates on a uniform basis to every Separately Used or Inhabited Part (SUIP) of a property in the region. A SUIP is any part of a property (rating unit) that is separately used or occupied, or is intended to be.

SLUI image

Changes to river management

Horizons River Management and Flood Protection activity provides a range of services to protect people and property from weather events and to support the regional economy. A core function of this is the maintenance and asset management programme for our 23 river schemes and 11 drainage schemes. In the past we have sought to undertake a number of large capital projects to increase the level of flood protection across the region, as well as complete our maintenance and asset management work.

In the current high cost of living environment the previous level of capital expenditure is unrealistic. For this Long-term Plan, we are putting our focus into maintaining existing assets within the programme to increase resilience to storm events. The programme maintains some budget provision for damage repairs and a limited budget for new assets in schemes where damage occurs and there is not currently flood protection assets.

This approach will change the way activity is delivered in some schemes. The aims of the maintenance based approach are to reduce the amount of damage to assets during storm events through preventative maintenance; increase transparency around the levels of service; and increase the efficiency of our operational delivery through a more structured programme. These goals align to community expectations expressed to us through direct landowner engagement, as well as Council’s desire to take a longer-term approach with river management planning via integrated catchment management explained here.

Resourcing this change will take a combination of reassigning existing budgets and introducing two new roles to increase our asset management capability in 2024- 25. The budget required for this is set out below and is funded by a combination of targeted scheme rates and general rates.

This change to a focus on the maintenance of existing assets has been included in this consultation document to inform our community. This table outlines the additional rates required for this activity.

*This activity is rated via a combination of the River and Drainage targeted scheme rates and the general rate.

Your rates explained

Every property will pay different rates depending on where you live and the services you receive. The rates you pay are made up of individual rates, common rates and general rates.

Individual rates are the ones that relate to certain work being undertaken in your area, but not somewhere else.

Common rates are charged out the same for all properties across the region. These go towards things such as environmental initiatives that benefit everyone and drinking water monitoring.

General rates are also applied to all properties but are calculated according to capital value.

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