QLDC says plan too reactive

The Queenstown Lakes District Council is opposed to the Otago Regional Council's plan change 6A designed to maintain and improve the quality of water in the province's waterways.

Senior policy analyst Jonathan Richards told the regional council's panel in Wanaka yesterday the plan change should be rejected.

He listed the Queenstown council's concerns and said the plan change would fail to meet the objectives of the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management 2011.

He submitted the plan change was too reactive.

"[The plan change] potentially promotes an approach which reacts to a deterioration of the water quality, rather than attempting to address matters before they arise through consent requirements."

During its two days in Wanaka, the panel has explained that the regional council's approach differs from those in Canterbury and Southland by allowing landowners to do what they like on their land, provided water discharged from the land meets certain contamination limits.

Mr Richards submitted this "permissive regime" opened up opportunities for inconsistencies, and for liability matters to be disputed.

He also believed the plan change did not take into account the differing nature of streams, rivers and lakes in the Queenstown Lakes region.

QLDC three waters manager Gerry Essenberg was concerned at the impact plan change 6A, which deals with water quality in rural areas, might have on discharges from urban waste water plants and storm water systems.

He believed the plan changes for rural and urban areas should be seen together.

Hugh Barnard from the Preserve Our Water Society raised the concerns of Hawea Flats residents concerned about the possible impact on their bore water of more intensive farming practices.

He questioned the council's ability to monitor nitrate and nitrite levels in ground water and believed it should require a consent process for such things as dairying operations.

Another member of the society, Jeremy Bisson, said allowing landowners a "self-regulatory" approach would provide inadequate protection for Otago's fresh water bodies.

He considered the plan's "effects-based" system was the "thalidomide approach".

"Once babies are born, you know something is wrong." Ida Valley farmer John Paterson and Roxburgh East farmer Dick Hill were the only submitters in Alexandra yesterday.

Mr Paterson was concerned some of the places the Department of Conservation expected waterways to be fenced were "absolutely ridiculous" - sheer rock walls, for example.

"We've been farming this country for 150 years and the fish [Doc want to protect] are still there and thriving," he said.

Submissions continue today in Alexandra.

Day 9
Where: Wanaka and Alexandra.
Panel: Crs Duncan Butcher [chairman], David Shepherd and independent member Clive Geddes.
Proposal: Changes to Otago's water regulations to prevent run-off in rural areas polluting the region's waterway.
Submitters: Jonathan Richards and Gerry Essenberg, Queenstown Lakes District Council; Hugh Barnard, Kim Fogelberg and Jeremy Bisson, Preserve Our Water Society; Sue Coutts, Hawea Flat; Tim Burdon, Jonathan Wallis, Lakes Landcare Group; Rachel Brown, Hawea Community Association; farmer John Paterson of Ida Valley Station and farmer Dick Hill, of Roxburgh East.
Quote of day: John Barlow: "I think it's a brilliant idea ... You can do anything you like with your property as long as you respect your neighbour's property. At the moment, a farmer is focused on his farm. With this he has to be focused on his neighbour ... This is a paradigm shift."

- mark.price@odt.co.nz

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