Public input aim of extra water plan meeting

Extra meeting is being planned for people to provide feedback on a water management plan for the upper Waitaki catchment, at a time when major decisions are being made on irrigation in the area.

The meeting is being held by the upper Waitaki zone committee, a joint community group established by Environment Canterbury and the Waimate and Mackenzie District Councils to prepare a draft zone implementation (water) programme for the upper catchment.

The draft is due for release for public comment early next year, but the Otago Daily Times revealed a first version of it has recommended no major new irrigation be allowed for up to six years while the effects of major new irrigation and land intensification on water quality are investigated.

Monday's meeting also comes after an ECan panel on Wednesday released its first decisions on applications for major new irrigation, including three proposals to develop dairy farms in the Omarama and Ohau Basins.

The panel declined to grant water in nine of its decisions.

Other decisions will be delivered before Christmas.

Water quality was identified by the panel as the critical issue in declining the first consents.

The upper Waitaki zone committee has already held two meetings in the catchment and scheduled an extra one in Omarama on Monday night at 7pm.

The meeting will be asked to provide feedback on the priorities for water management in the zone to guide the committee as it develops recommendations for the draft programme.

The draft will recommend actions, responsibilities and timeframes for activities to achieve the principles, targets and goals set out in the Canterbury Water Management Strategy (CWMS).

Once developed, the community will also have an opportunity to provide feedback on the draft before it goes to the councils.

The zone covers the entire upper Waitaki catchment above the Waitaki dam.

- david.bruce@odt.co.nz