Out­cry over min­i­mum flow

Central Otago Mirror - - CONVERSATIONS -

JO MCKEN­ZIE-MCLEAN

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.

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