River flow submissions report findings ‘bogus’

The Otago Regional Council deputy chairman has described the findings of a report released yesterday on submissions made on five flow scenarios for the Manuherikia River as ‘‘bogus’’.

Michael Laws, who is also a Dunstan constituency councillor, did not hold back last night when he alleged the report, which supposedly shows support for a flow of more than 3000 litres per second for the river, had no validity and had been made public before any ORC elected member had seen it.

‘‘I would have to state this report is crap.’’

His concerns centred on the fact the fact the submissions could be made anonymously, Cr Laws said.

‘‘There’s literally hundreds of anonymous people whose views were counted, which means it could be easily manipulated.

‘‘It is no more valid than any anonymous survey and I know this survey has been manipulated.’’

Michael Laws
Michael Laws

He was stunned anyone could think online surveys could have ‘‘any validity in the real world’’.

His ire was directed at the process undertaken by ORC staff in releasing the data.

‘‘I’m really annoyed ORC staff decided to release today the results of a survey that if you had any inkling you would know it was bogus.’’

He only became aware of the report when it was published on the ODT’s website late yesterday.

The summary report released by the ORC to the ODT detailed results of consultation on five flow scenarios for the Manuherikia River.

The five flow options tabled ranged from 1200 litres per second up to 3000 litres per second.

A total of 1089 submissions were made.

The submissions were presented in a graph form in the release, which the Otago Daily Times then requested be presented in concrete figures.

A total of 410 submissions supported a minimum flow of 3000 litres per second, 109 supported 2500, 76 wanted 2000, 36 supported 1500, 147 were for 1200, 172 wanted 1100 and 103 supported 900 litres per second.

Twenty-one submissions supported less than 900 litres per second (categorised as ‘‘none — less’’), while in the ‘‘none — more’’ category eight submitters wanted more than 3000 litres per second.

Earlier, Central Otago Mayor Tim Cadogan was the first to question the figures, saying he had taken more interest in the breakdown of the local submissions, which could be found in the body of the consultation report, than the graph the ORC released.

A second graph called ‘‘scenario preference by location’’ showed, by his ‘‘rough calculations’’, about twice as many submitters from ‘‘Manuherekia’’, which he understood to include Alexandra and Clyde, favoured a 1500 litres per second flow or less as opposed to 2000 litres per second or above, he said.

‘‘Once the broader Central Otago column is added, approximately 70% of submitters favoured a 1500 litres per second or less flow as opposed to 2000 litres per second or above.’’

An ORC spokesman said the consultation would be used in the development of the council’s new land and water plan.

The scenarios for consultation were developed with input from the Manuherekia Reference Group (MRG).

The consultation summary also reported on scenario preference by location and analyses additional comments made in the submissions.

Comments were grouped into the categories of values, issues, suggested actions and the consultation process, and will inform staff’s advice to the ORC.

The release also stated that after a public workshop on August 12, ORC councillors would consider a full report from staff on August 25, which would include a summary of the submissions, a preferred flow from iwi, a report from the MRG and a staff recommendation.

The ORC’s decision on a management scenario for the Manuherikia River would be made when it notified the land and water regional plan at the end of 2023, at which point the public would be able to have their say through submissions and hearings.


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The policy planner and their manager should be fired for presenting such misinformation to the public and enabling the green interests groups to hijack the narrative. 100% incompetent

There is no proof of your allegation. If Laws had made his statement before the results were released he might of had a point, however I get the feeling he is only complaining because he doesn't like the result. I have no respect for the councillor.

Everyone in council knows the likes of forest and bird roll out emails to their members to submit on mass. They often include pro forma submissions with thier emails pre-written. You and i both know that too (given you do get these emails) so lets not be cute about what is both fact and common knowledge.

Pinkney, how dare you make assumptions about me. I made my submission independently and in good faith that it would be treated equally with everybody else's. I received no emails but followed a link in an advert on this very ODT website. If you, Laws or anybody else were unhappy the way the survey was conducted you should of spoken up earlier.

makes a change from farmer type self interest groups hijacking the process as per usual

Based on the results published, 527 wanted 2500 or higher, and 555 wanted under 2500. Statistically the result is as clear as river mud.

This latest display of incompetence and misinformation by ORC is a symptom of an administration and staff who have no idea what they are doing and delusional Councillors who think they do. We have a sows ear of a Council and no matter how hard you try it will never be a silk purse. A demonstrated inability to properly administer the Resource Management Act, not knowing or enforcing its own plans and planning one of the largest offices in Dunedin when everyone else is working smarter from home? No wonder they are plundering ratepayers with a 75 percent rates increase. Incompetence costs money - when will it stop???

What's stopping one anon from submitting their preference 20 times?

mmm again do we have the right people in jobs at local authorities?

Well done to the administrators of the ORC for ensuring that the views of the people are represented in the face of rampant farming self interest. The way to increase river flow is to curtail water extraction rather than building dams - this is self-interested scare mongering.
When the next ORC elections come along could the ODT please make clear he candidates who are farmers or follow farming interests? I find the comments from Counsillors Laws, Cadogan and (Farmer) Kelliher are frankly prejudicial and biaised.

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