Society seeks $50k to fund river-flow fight

Money is still needed by the Lower Waitaki River Management Society to pay for its fight against lowering the minimum flow in the lower Waitaki River.

The society estimated it needed about $50,000 to fund its case opposing a change to the Waitaki catchment water allocation plan at hearings starting before a panel of three commissioners in Oamaru on June 9.

The change to the plan is being considered by Environment Canterbury (ECan).

Society chairman Ian McIlraith, in a further appeal for donations, said nine expert witnesses would present evidence on behalf of the society.

The main focus was to demonstrate a lower minimum flow was a threat to river ecology and entirely unnecessary to provide for reliable irrigation water, Mr McIlraith said.

The expert witnesses would speak on the adverse impacts of the proposed change in a range of subject areas, including the frequency and degree of ''water shortage'', economic aspects, impacts of climate change on flow, river braiding, water quality trends, fishing and game birds, bird predation and cultural matters.

An experienced lawyer was preparing a legal case.

''These experts have all agreed with no promise of remuneration, just because they believe in the cause,'' Mr McIlraith said.

However, the society's board agreed it was only right to at least meet their costs.

The society launched an appeal in August last year for donations, followed by a fundraising project last month.

Oamaru artist Donna Demente had designed a''share certificate'' for 1cumec of water in the river for $100.

The society was about a quarter of the way to its target and had little time left.

david.bruce@odt.co.nz

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