Eco­nomic im­pact a con­cern

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

Con­cerns over the eco­nomic im­pact of pro­posed wa­ter changes to a Cen­tral Otago catch­ment has sparked the dis­trict coun­cil to in­ter­vene.

The Cen­tral Otago Dis­trict Coun­cil wants to com­mis­sion its own eco­nomic im­pact study on pro­posed new min­i­mum flow set­tings for the Manuherikia River. The Otago Re­gional Coun­cil is cur­rently con­sult­ing on a pro­posed plan change for the Manuherikia catch­ment which will es­tab­lish new min­i­mum flows and al­lo­ca­tion limit.

In a re­port to the CODC, eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment man­ager Warwick Hawker says the public do not have an ‘‘in­formed view’’ of sug­gested min­i­mum flow op­tions un­less they have ‘‘ro­bust data’’ re­gard­ing the eco­nomic im­pacts when they make sub­mis­sions dur­ing the con­sul­ta­tion process.

There was ‘‘con­sid­er­able dis­quiet’’ in the Manuherikia catch­ment’s pas­toral farm­ing and hor­ti­cul­ture com­mu­ni­ties about the ORC’s sug­gested min­i­mum flows, and ques­tions have been raised about the vi­a­bil­ity of the Manuherikia Catch­ment Wa­ter Strat­egy Group’s (MCWSG) com­mu­nity wa­ter project.

‘‘Pas­toral farm­ing, hor­ti­cul­ture and viti­cul­ture are key driv­ers of the Cen­tral Otago econ­omy. In 2016 the agri­cul­ture, forestry and fish­ing sec­tor was worth $163.8 mil­lion and di­rectly ac­counted for 17.2 per cent of the re­gion’s GDP and 22.9 per cent of em­ploy­ment. In­di­rectly this sec­tor also sup­ported other eco­nomic ac­tiv­ity and em­ploy­ment in the dis­trict. It is ques­tion­able whether these sec­tors could con­tinue to be eco­nom­i­cally vi­able if they do not have ac­cess to re­li­able ir­ri­ga­tion through the dry Cen­tral Otago grow­ing sea­son.’’

Sug­gested min­i­mum flow lev­els are de­tailed in an ORC doc­u­ment rang­ing from 1250 litres per sec­ond in sum­mer to 4000 litres per sec­ond in win­ter. The ORC has yet to pre­pare an eval­u­a­tion re­port which would de­tail ben­e­fits, costs and risks to the com­mu­nity, econ­omy and en­vi­ron­ment. The re­port will not be com­mis­sioned un­til the ORC has iden­ti­fied its pre­ferred min­i­mum flow regime, the re­port says.

Ac­cord­ing to ir­ri­ga­tors, the low­est pro­posed sum­mer flow is not achiev­able in dry years and the low­est pro­posed win­ter flow could re­sult in the ex­ist­ing Falls Dam not be­ing able to be filled in win­ter.

The re­port will be con­sid­ered at the CODC meet­ing to­day.


Alexan­dra de­signer Daphne Ran­dle won the Breen Con­struc­tion Col­lec­tions Award with Pat­terns in Paua.


Warwick Hawker.

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