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A water management plan for the upper Waitaki catchment west of the Waitaki dam has been endorsed by Environment Canterbury commissioners after more than a year of work by a community-based committee.
The Upper Waitaki zone implementation programme for water management represents consensus reached by committee members on local actions needed to improve water management in the zone, Environment Canterbury (ECan) commissioner and Upper Waitaki zone committee member Peter Skelton said.
It was prepared as part of the Canterbury water management strategy, under which 10 community committees have been established to make local decisions on how their water resources should be managed.
The Upper Waitaki programme is the seventh of 10 to be formally received by ECan. The Waitaki and Mackenzie District Councils endorsed the programme last month.
Since its establishment in February 2011, the zone committee held 12 formal meetings, six workshops and four field trips to get a practical sense of water management requirements.
"How water is used is crucial to the future of the region. Completion of the zone's first programme for water management is vital to ensuring the region's water is managed effectively," committee chairman Barry Shepherd said.
The committee members had diverse experience and all reasonable attempts were made to capture a range of opinions in the programme.
The programme had taken a "whole of waterways" approach to integrate water management from the mountains to the sea.
That includes the Maori principle of kaitiakitanga, reflected in the recommendations to improve water quality and quantity, as well as providing more customary use, and involving runanga in water management.
The key focus areas were water nutrient and effluent management; the Waitaki catchment water allocation regional plan; braided rivers; biodiversity; and prosperity. The programme also set out some priorities, including protecting and enhancing water quality to support diversity of aquatic life, recreational values, and irrigation reliability.
Other focus areas related to investigations and monitoring, water allocation, and ensuring prosperous and vibrant communities through ensuring a reliable stock water supply, and developing an economic growth strategy.