New wa­ter lim­its could bring ‘real tragedy’

The Hastings Mail - - FRONT PAGE - MARTY SHARPE

The very real ef­fects of im­prov­ing the wa­ter qual­ity of the Tuk­i­tuki River are about to bite and farm­ers and the com­mu­nity they sup­port are not ready.

It was dis­cov­ered nearly a decade ago that the river’s wa­ter had been over-al­lo­cated and this was lead­ing to its poor health over sum­mer.

The Hawke’s Bay Re­gional Coun­cil brought in a plan change in late 2015 that would see the min­i­mum flow lev­els in­crease, mean­ing ir­ri­ga­tors would need to cease tak­ing wa­ter when the river got down to a higher level than pre­vi­ously.

The new lev­els come into ef­fect next year, with a fur­ther in­crease in 2023.

The lim­its par­tic­u­larly af­fect Cen­tral Hawke’s Bay. Com­mu­nity lead­ers and the Mayor, Alex Walker, have im­plored the re­gional coun­cil to look at mak­ing a plan change that would de­fer the new lim­its.

They said many wa­ter users had been re­ly­ing on wa­ter to be pro­vided by the Ru­atani­wha dam scheme, which did not go ahead, and they needed time to iden­tify and ex­e­cute long-term so­lu­tions to the loss of wa­ter for their busi­nesses.

There are cur­rently 76 con­sents with min­i­mum flow con­di­tions.

The Hawke’s Bay Re­gional Coun­cil re­gional plan­ning com­mit­tee on Wed­nes­day con­sid­ered a pa­per from staff that rec­om­mended fur­ther dis­cus­sions be held with Min­istry for the En­vi­ron­ment of­fi­cials, iwi, Fish and Game and For­est and Bird and oth­ers then re­port back to the com­mit­tee with their re­sponses.

The com­mit­tee voted 7-4 against the rec­om­men­da­tions, ef­fec­tively mean­ing the sta­tus quo re­mains, though it was agreed that fur­ther dis­cus­sions would be held with stake­hold­ers.

Com­mit­tee mem­bers strong views on the mat­ter.

Cr Deb­bie He­witt said the new lim­its would af­fect many peo­ple.

‘‘It’s not just about 76 con­sent hold­ers. It’s a wider com­mu­nity ap­pre­ci­a­tion that we’re had dis­cussing here. I’d like to think that there’s quite a bit of com­pas­sion around the ta­ble for the sit­u­a­tion,’’ she said.

He­witt said the com­mu­nity had not been ‘‘rest­ing on the lau­rels’’ fol­low­ing the Ru­atani­wha dam de­ci­sion and it was look­ing at var­i­ous means of sup­ple­ment­ing the wa­ter sup­ply, such as al­ter­na­tive wa­ter stor­age.

Com­mit­tee mem­ber Mike Mohi said lift­ing the min­i­mum flows would have a sig­nif­i­cant im­pact on jobs in the com­mu­nity, which had been strongly led to be­lieve that the dam would go ahead.

‘‘We’re faced with a real tragedy for a lot of our fam­i­lies, right down to the ko­hanga reo, if this kicks in next sum­mer. It’s not just the 76. It’s a huge com­mu­nity,’’ Mohi said.

Cr Tom Belford said it was a ‘‘fool’s er­rand to hold out this lit­tle candle’’ of chang­ing the lim­its and it was time to ‘‘just get on with it’’.

He said wa­ter users had had plenty of time to look at al­ter­na­tives.

New wa­ter lim­its will come into ef­fect for the Tuk­i­tuki River next year, mean­ing tighter rules for ir­ri­ga­tors.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand

© PressReader. All rights reserved.