Outcry over minimum flow
Community members were ‘‘flabbergasted’’ to be presented proposed minimum flow numbers without vital economic and social reports completed for some catchments.
The Otago Regional Council held a public meeting in Cromwell on Monday where staff presented proposed minimum flows for the three priority catchments: the Arrow River, Cardrona River and Manuherikia River.
A heated discussion ensued as proposed figures were unveiled that some said would force enterprises to close, while farmers would have to turn to dairy to sustain costs.
Robin Schulz of McArthur Ridge vineyard said as a major shareholder of one of the bigger takes in the Manuherikia, he was ‘‘flabbergasted’’ the council had held a meeting with only half the information.
Staff told the crowd the proposed flows for the Manuherikia were solely based on ecological assessments as water surety, economic and social assessments were not yet complete.
‘‘What you are putting on the board there will make our enterprise close down. That’s 30 permanent jobs, $60 million worth of export, $4m not spent in this community. The social and economic part of this is vital. You need to reconvene this meeting before you notify this proposal very quickly.’’
Farmer Gary Kelliher said the council had failed the community by not treating all factions fairly.
‘‘It is really, really disappointing of this council that it is prepared to present these numbers now when it doesn’t have to put to us as well the economic, social and cultural impacts of those numbers. I think it is actually misleading the good people of this community by presenting these numbers now without all the pieces of the puzzle.’’
ORC deputy chair Gretchen Robertson said she understood people’s frustration and while the plan change was not perfect, it was not the end point either.