Federated Farmers will be reminding Central Hawke's Bay District Council that farmers have no expectation that urban ratepayers will help pay for their personal on-farm wastewater systems, so it is unfair to ask farmers to fund town wastewater.
Federated Farmers is preparing a submission on the Central Hawke's Bay District's council's draft Long Term Plan 2018-28, its blueprint for rates income and spending for the next 10 years.
The council intends imposing a new rate on all ratepayers in the district this year to partly fund town wastewater systems, to be set at $27 per rating unit.
Historically, it has funded town wastewater totally by targeted rates.
This meant that ratepayers connected to the system, or within a serviceable area, were the ones paying for it.
Federated Farmers supported this user-pays approach.
But the council now claims there is a public benefit derived from town wastewater, in the form of general sanitation and better water quality.
It forecasts it will need $8million extra over the next 10 years for town wastewater systems.
Federated Farmers sympathises with the extra costs that are being felt by Council meeting the water quality rules in Tukituki Plan Change 6.
Farmers can sympathise, as they also experience increased costs to comply with water-quality rules, and their on-farm activities provide a cleaner environment as a general public benefit too.
Those in the Tukituki River catchment are required to have a Farm Environment Management Plan, farm to nutrient budgets, and exclude stock from waterways — all of which costs tens of thousands of dollars.
Some farmers may need a resource consent, an added cost. and this brings added costs too.
Farmers also manage their own household wastewater disposal, contributing to general sanitation. If they get their septic tank cleaned out and dumped into the town system, a dump fee is charged per cubic metre and tankered waste is charged at $120 per load.
The Such costs farmers face for their own wastewater and water quality squarely fall on the individual farmer, with no financial help from urban ratepayers.
This should go both ways.
*Rhea Dasent is Federated Farmers' senior policy adviser.