Water plan changes

Formal consultation over proposals to restrict water takes from the Pomahaka River and Cromwell aquifer will begin next month. 

The Otago Regional Council's proposed plan changes 4B (groundwater management: Cromwell Aquifer) and 3B (Pomahaka Catchment minimum flow) would be publicly notified on August 16 and become operational.

For the Pomahaka, the plan change proposes to establish minimum flows, allocation limits and monitoring sites.

While the river had reliable rainfall and a low need for irrigation, if climate and land use changed there might be increased demand for irrigation water, which could put pressure on aquatic ecosystems and other in-stream values, a report to the council's policy committee said.

Consultation had shown some support but there were requests for higher and lower summer minimum flows.

The Cromwell plan change recommended a maximum allocation volume for the Cromwell terrace aquifer.

Initial indication was of general support for the limit and further discussions were held with Contact Energy regarding the impact on its hydro-electric operations but no changes to the proposal were needed, a report to the committee said.

Submissions on both plan change proposals close on September 12.

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