Water situation faces change
Preparations for new water quality rules and consents to take water when the gold mining rights of our predecessors expire in seven years were issues at the forefront of a public meeting in Alexandra last week.
The Central Otago District Council held the meeting for feedback on how to manage land use intensification effects for the review of its district plan.
One of six speakers, Otago Regional Council chairman Stephen Woodhead said the regional council’s plan change 6a to water quality came into effect on May 1 this year.
Landholders must meet the permitted contaminant discharge thresholds and nitrogen leaching conditions by 2020 for the regional council to comply with the standards for waterways, streams and rivers by 2025, he said.
To resolve issues of water quality and supply it can be more cost effective to work in groups rather than individually and landholders needed to do water quality testing to understand what was happening at their properties, he said.
BTW South managing director Kate Scott is the Manuherikia Catchment Water Strategy group project manager for its feasibility study.
Along with consent strategies and water allocation methods there are six options being considered for upgrading water in the Manuherikia Valley. Three of those are raising Falls Dam to six, 15 or 27m and the others are a new Mt Ida Dam in the lower or upper Mt Ida Valley or upgrading the existing infrastructure with pipe or race networks.
Part of that process was adopting the regional council plan change 6a for water quality and taking into account the expiring mining privilege water permits in 2021 when landowners would need consents to take water, Ms Scott said.
Irrigators needed to become familiar with the different options and stages of the study for farm costs to be affordable and profitable and ensure irrigation was carried out efficiently, she said.
Fish and Game Otago environmental officer Peter Wilson said few farmers in the Manuherikia Valley wanted change; they liked the present system and would need advice on future management plans.
There was an opportunity to showcase the Manuherikia Valley, ‘‘ how we can farm a bit differently and do it in a way that we are protecting its values’’, he said.
Otago Federated Farmers senior policy adviser David Cooper said water quality plan changes were something ‘‘farmers were going to have to get on top of . . . not only farmers but urban users as well’’.
Party time: Central Otago District Council property and facilities manager Mike Kerr, Bannockburn Community Centre Management Committee chairwoman Kerry Stainton-Herbert and Cromwell Community Board member and councillor Nigel McKinlay celebrating news the Bannockburn Hall will not be demolished.