Draft recommendations on water quality and quantity in the
Hinds catchment are due to be produced by October.
Drains in the catchment have some of the highest nitrate
concentrations for surface water in New Zealand. The zone
stretched from within a few hundred metres of the Ashburton
River to the Rangitata River and from the foothills to the
Several scenarios were put forward for discussion at public
meetings in Hinds which were organised by the Ashburton Water
Zone chairman Matthew Hall said the committee had to collate
the views of the local community and had put forward the
scenarios ranging from the baseline status quo, a development
scenario and an environmental scenario. There was also an
on-farm scenario which featured good farm management
practices and aquifer recharge.
''If I was to summarise the baseline meeting, the community
was telling us the status quo was not acceptable,'' Mr Hall
Under the development scenario, water had been allocated for
30,000ha of new irrigation through the Barrhill Chertsey
Irrigation scheme and the Rangitata Diversion Race. The
consents might require nutrient water quality conditions
under the proposed Land and Water Regional Plan.
''Under the Canterbury Water Management Strategy we are
setting a path for the next 30 years and there would be
incremental steps to get there, so that development is not
going to happen in the next year,'' Mr Hall said.
If 90% of that irrigated land was in dairying or dairying
support, it would definitely have an impact on the
environment, he added.
The environmental scenario would set targets for the amount
of water in the catchment and would require water of
sufficient quality for fish life.
''It didn't sit well with the farming community.''
Mr Hall predicted the committee would steer a path in the
middle. He acknowledged good management on farms would be
''Farmers will have to set their sights on managing the
inputs. There could also be other mitigation measures
required at various levels. For example, a mitigation one
level requirement or a mitigation two level.''
Advances in irrigation methods and research into the
application of water to ensure nitrates were absorbed by
plants was ongoing.
''Another mitigation method was the managed aquifer
recharge,'' Mr Hall said.
''There is talk about a pilot for this but it is not decided
''It's up to the farm leaders to tell us what they can do.''
Industry also would play a huge part in the process, he said.
A meeting of industry groups was to be held today.
Mr Hall believed there was a lot which could be done to get
the water already available from ground and surface water
''By mixing and matching ground and surface water it could go
a long way further, particularly with storage.''
The zone committee will present its draft decisions around
quality and quantity of water at a public meeting in October.
- by Maureen Bishop