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People who have consent to take and use water from the Hakatere/Ashburton River catchment waterways will soon face tighter restrictions.
From July 1 next year, new minimum flow conditions come into play.
The new minimum flows were developed with the community and included in the Canterbury Land and Water Regional Plan to improve and protect the natural character and mauri (life force) of the Hakatere/Ashburton River, promote ecosystem health and biodiversity, improve water quality and ensure the river mouth remains open for longer.
At the start of April 2022, 61 consent reviews had been decided. Of them, 55 have the new minimum flow conditions added.
From July 1, 2023, those consent holders must stop taking water when the flow in the Hakatere/Ashburton River mainstem at the State Highway 1 bridge recorder site is less than six cumecs (6000 litres per second), and many also have minimum flow restrictions on tributary waterways.
There are 25 consent reviews — held by 11 consent holders — still to be decided.
Regional planning manager Andrew Parrish said it had been a difficult process for those whose consents were being reviewed, because their water supply, often for irrigation of high value crops, would be less reliable.
For those using water for irrigation, the new minimum flows will impact their farming operation and many consent holders are looking at alternatives like scheme water or unconnected groundwater.
The consent review was necessary to implement minimum flows set by the regional plan and meant more water was left in the catchment for the health of the river and the benefit of all water users, Mr Parish said.
"Consent review allows us to reach that minimum flow by mid-next year, and to do it in a way that creates an even playing field for water users."