Some agreement on minimum

An Environment Canterbury panel will return to Oamaru next week to consider an amended water allocation plan for the Waitaki River.

The panel has analysed submissions made over seven days of hearings on a Waitaki catchment water allocation regional plan change (plan change 3) last month and will reconvene on Tuesday at 9am.

It will ask parties to respond to some issues raised with Meridian Energy Ltd, the Waitaki Irrigators' Collective and Environment Canterbury (ECan). Other parties can join, but have to apply by noon on Friday.

ECan has put forward a change to the Waitaki catchment water allocation regional plan, which is being considered by the panel.

Next week, it will hear a response from ECan legal counsel and staff about issues raised by submitters, including amendments to the plan change.

One of the main changes under plan change 3 is lowering minimum water flows to ensuring those who held resource consents before the current plan became operative in 2006, mostly for irrigation, continue to have the same reliability of water supply.

Various submitters disagreed with proposed levels and suggested alternative levels.

As a result, an agreement has been reached with some of those parties to modify the minimum flow proposed in plan change 3, resulting in slight increases.

Several submissions were made on the proposal to allocate 11cumecs to enhance mahinga kai values, as well as on how water from Wainono Lagoon could be used, and what rights Ngai Tahu and its Arowhenua, Waihao and Moeraki runanga would have to approve or reject any proposals.

Ngai Tahu sought the right to veto any applications to use that water, but the panel, which cannot legally delegate that responsibility, has indicated the plan would instead be amended to stipulate Ngai Tahu and its three runanga must be consulted about use of the water.

Electricity generators that sought greater certainty for the renewal of their electricity generation consents will have to wait until after the High Court rules whether the panel has the authority to make such decisions.



River hearing

Waitaki water allocation plan

• Plan sets how much water can be taken from the lower Waitaki River for irrigation and electricity generation among other uses. Changes are being considered to the original 2006 plan..

• A panel of commissioners heard from submitters last month and returns to Oamaru next week to consider amendments to proposed changes.

Submitters' concerns

• Minimum flows

• Allocation of 11cumecs for enhancing mahinga kai values

• Irrigation allocation between the Waitaki dam and Black Point

• Security of irrigation water supply for pre-2006 consents

• More certainty for renewing hydro generation consents

• Lowering Lake Pukaki during water shortages for generation


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