ORC wa­ter plan change ‘sneaky’

Central Otago Mirror - - FRONT PAGE - JO MCKEN­ZIE-MCLEAN

‘‘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.

PHIL WALTER/GETTY IM­AGES

New Zealan­der Mike Phillips com­petes in the 2017 Chal­lenge Wanaka event on Satur­day. See story, page 30.

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