ORC water plan change ‘sneaky’
‘‘There is confusion out there among irrigators.’’
A proposed change to how water is taken from the region’s streams or tributaries has been dubbed ‘‘sneaky’’, ‘‘vague’’ and could have a ‘‘dramatic effect’’ on water users and irrigators.
The Otago Regional Council is currently holding a series of dropin sessions to get feedback on a proposed plan change looking at how much water is taken from small tributaries.
Policy, planning and resource management director Fraser McRae said establishing how much water should be left in a tributary or stream and for what purpose was not straightforward in the current water plan.
‘‘The proposed plan change ORC is seeking to develop aims to create certainty for how the amount of water to be left in a tributary will be calculated and how particular points of take will be managed.
‘‘It is important for the community to have their say on how much water is taken from small tributaries whilst maintaining community values, and we will factor in their feedback as the pro- posal is developed.’’
For water permit holders, the proposed plan change could limit the amount of water able to be taken when flows in tributaries/ small streams were low, he said.
Councillor Graeme Bell said he raised concerns at the last committee meeting about the proposed plan change, saying irrigators felt the 1D Plan Change was ‘‘sneaky’’.
‘‘It appears to the irrigation community that 1D has just appeared and there is confusion out there among irrigators.
‘‘I also passed on comments from irrigation community leaders that the drop-in sessions are not considered formal consultation.
‘‘Farmers would like to hear a summary from the ORC on what is required and also like to hear other contributions from other parties along with their contributions around the table.’’
Councillor Michael Laws said the proposed plan change would have a ‘‘dramatic effect’’ upon water quality in the region.
‘‘ORC is going to need to steer a very professional, science-based and empathetic course over the next couple of years.’’
Former councillor Gary Kelliher said detail from the ORC was ‘‘vague’’, so communities had to consider a plan change based on very few specifics of what it meant.
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