Ac­tion plan re­vealed

CHB Mail - - News -

A joint coun­cil “task­force” has been an­nounced to help solve the wa­ter woes of On­gaonga and Tikokino res­i­dents who have col­lec­tively spent more than $126,000 in the past decade up­grad­ing pumps or in­stalling emer­gency wa­ter tanks.

Res­i­dents from the two town­ships, who are not con­nected to town wa­ter and re­ply on pri­vate bores, blame in­creased ir­ri­ga­tion by farm­ers for drop­ping wa­ter lev­els in the Ru­atani­wha basin, the source of their drink­ing wa­ter.

At a public meet­ing at Tikokino last Wed­nes­day night, Tikokino res­i­dent Catherine Hobbs-Turner said it was a re­gional is­sue as the Ru­atani­wha basin cov­ered a huge area, right up to the Kaweka Range, past the Taka­pau plains to Norse­wood then down to Otane.

“It then comes un­der On­gaonga and Tikokino and then it hits the lime­stone hills, then comes out at the Tuk­i­tuki River. It makes up 83 per cent of the river,” she said.

Hobbs-Turner said as a re­sult of in­creased ex­trac­tion over the past 10 years, the aquifer had been “deeply im­pacted” in re­gards to both stor­age and flows.

The re­gional coun­cil also rolled out its Sus­tain­able Homes Pol­icy last week, which will al­low res­i­dents to ap­ply for low-in­ter­est loans to get sus­tain­able pumps for their bores or wa­ter tanks for emer­gency wa­ter sup­ply.

“It is a so­lu­tion for now, but it doesn’t take away the fact that this shouldn’t have hap­pened. It’s over-con­sent­ing that has caused this is­sue,” Hobbs-Turner said.

Res­i­dents were fur­ther con­cerned about their abil­ity to ac­cess ad­e­quate drink­ing wa­ter if the re­gional coun­cil granted con­sent to eight ap­pli­cants seek­ing to ex­tract 15 mil­lion cu­bic me­tres of “tranche 2” ground­wa­ter from the Ru­atani­wha aquifer.

Coun­cils re­spond

Last Fri­day, the CHB Dis­trict and Hawke’s Bay Re­gional Coun­cils an­nounced they will cre­ate a task­force to man­age the short, medium and long-term wa­ter is­sues in the dis­trict — a day af­ter a pub­licly-ex­cluded meet­ing of man­age­ment, sci­ence, con­sent­ing and plan­ning staff from both coun­cils.

In a joint press re­lease, they con­ceded the sci­ence “clearly” showed ground­wa­ter lev­els in the Ru­atani­wha Basin had dropped as ir­ri­ga­tion ex­trac­tion “dra­mat­i­cally in­creased”.

The coun­cils an­nounced a sur­vey of Tikokino and On­gaonga res­i­dents would be car­ried out to un­der­stand their wa­ter sup­ply sit­u­a­tion, and that a joint com­mu­nity fo­rum will be held be­fore Christ­mas to dis­cuss their wa­ter quan­tity “chal­lenges”.

The coun­cils said the task­force would also work closely with ir­ri­ga­tors and in­dus­trial wa­ter users and the wider com­mu­nity about how to deal with the new min­i­mum flow lim­its in the Tuk­i­tuki, which are likely to im­pact on ir­ri­ga­tion this sum­mer.

The re­gional coun­cil also re­vealed plans to con­duct an elec­tro-mag­netic aerial sur­vey of the aquifer to help man­age wa­ter takes and their im­pacts with “far greater pre­ci­sion and cer­tainty”.

Re­gional coun­cil chief ex­ec­u­tive James Palmer said it was likely the tranche 2 ap­pli­ca­tions would be pub­licly no­ti­fied.

PHOTO: PAUL TAY­LOR

Tikokino res­i­dent Catherine Hobbs-Turner at last week’s com­mu­nity meet­ing at the Tikokino Ho­tel.

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