Groundwater allocation

Preventing overallocation of Otago's aquifers is the aim of the latest water plan change proposed by the Otago Regional Council.

So far, the council has made changes to its 2004 regional water plan through 1C (water allocation), most recently 6A (water quality) and now it has moved on to 4B (groundwater allocation).

The proposed plan change has gone out to those involved with groundwater takes for consultation before it is publicly notified.

It sets up a groundwater allocation mechanism which means that when the volume of water allocated exceeds a set limit, no new resource consents could be granted.

However, existing consents could be renewed for up to the volume previously taken.

Council senior policy analyst Richard Pettinger said the plan change was needed because existing water plan regulations did not address full or over-allocation of aquifers and presented inconsistencies which affected the implementation of the water plan.

Among the problems was that the prohibited activity rules intended to prevent new resource consents being granted from fully allocated aquifers did not.

There was also little certainty over the period of time to be considered when assessing past use, whether non-consumptive takes should be excluded and stating a method for calculating the mean annual recharge for an aquifer.

''There is an opportunity to simplify and streamline provisions.''

It was expected the proposal would be amended and presented for notification in March next year allowing for further consultation with the general public.


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