Final report on Manuherikia River expected this winter

The Manuherikia River and the science required to protect it became a focal point for freshwater...
The Manuherikia River and the science required to protect it became a focal point for freshwater concerns in Otago after a pivotal council meeting in August last year. Photo: Gerard O'Brien
The final report from the Manuherikia River technical advisory group is expected to be ready for Otago regional councillors this winter.

The Manuherikia River and the science required to protect it became a focal point for freshwater concerns in Otago after a pivotal council meeting in August last year.

Councillors opted not to follow the staff recommendation to ‘‘note’’ minimum flows for the river for the council’s land and water plan.

Instead, due to ‘‘incomplete science’’, councillors called for more work from the technical advisory group. That work was originally scheduled to be complete by March.

Now, Otago Regional Council acting policy and science general manager Anita Dawe said council staff were working on a final report expected to be ready for a July meeting of the council’s strategy and planning committee.

That timeline was contingent on peer review work being completed, and the availability of the group’s members for a full-day meeting in June, Ms Dawe said.

Due to the technical nature of the report, staff were also proposing a workshop for councillors, to enable them to ask questions of the report, she said.

Among the work completed since the group had last presented to councillors was the development of criteria for the assessment of the ecological health of the river, she said.

Those criteria are to be used to evaluate minimum flow scenarios, or proposals for the mandatory cut-off point when water can no longer be taken from the river under low-flow conditions.

The group’s members include the council, Aukaha, the Department of Conservation, Otago Fish & Game, Omakau Area Irrigation Company and the Otago Water Resource Users Group.

The council’s former strategy, policy and science general manager Gwyneth Elsum, was the group’s previous chairwoman. She resigned from the council earlier this year.

A spokesman said council science manager Tom Dyer was now chairman of the group.

 

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