Con­ser­va­tion or­der un­der­mines process

Hawke’s Bay Re­gional Coun­cil chair­man Rex Gra­ham is out­raged at the ac­tions of the New Zealand Fish & Game Coun­cil, and En­vi­ron­ment Min­is­ter Nick Smith, for at­tempt­ing to im­pose a Wa­ter Con­ser­va­tion Or­der on the lower Ngaru­ruro.

The Orchardist - - Water - By Rose Man­ner­ing

On Au­gust 22, the coun­cil voted unan­i­mously to op­pose the pro­posed Wa­ter Con­ser­va­tion Or­der which would place un­work­able and oner­ous re­stric­tions on wa­ter users on the Here­taunga Plains.

“The HBRC is to­tally op­posed to the or­der; we have unan­i­mous sup­port (in­clud­ing our two Green coun­cil­lors) to fight the or­der at all lev­els,” he says.

“This is very very se­ri­ous out­side in­ter­fer­ence in the ju­di­cial process.” The coun­cil has placed great em­pha­sis in re­search­ing and man­ag­ing the river. New sci­ence just re­leased by HBRC in­di­cates the ef­fects of cur­rent ground­wa­ter takes from the Here­taunga aquifer are at the limit of what is en­vi­ron­men­tally ac­cept­able.

TANK, the col­lab­o­ra­tive or­gan­i­sa­tion set up to re­view wa­ter re­sources on the Here­taunga Plains and Ahuriri has been a party to the lat­est ad­vice which shows the cur­rent an­nual vol­ume of ground­wa­ter taken is con­sid­ered to be at its max­i­mum ac­cept­able level and al­lo­cat­ing fur­ther wa­ter ap­pears to no longer be ac­cept­able.

Rex says there is no need for alarm about this find­ing for hor­ti­cul­tural users. “We have enough wa­ter for the aquifer to re­plen­ish. There will be no af­fect on ex­ist­ing con­sents. There is a big gap be­tween wa­ter that is al­lo­cated, and wa­ter that is used.

“We are hop­ing users will come up with in­no­va­tive solutions like the global con­sent op­er­at­ing in the Twyford area.

“I don’t see this as some­thing for grow­ers to be too wor­ried about.”

The same can­not be said for the pro­posed Wa­ter Con­ser­va­tion Or­der. “We would like the ap­pli­cants to with­draw the pro­posal for the or­der. I be­lieve it is ir­re­spon­si­ble for the Min­is­ter for the En­vi­ron­ment Nick Smith to ac­cept the ap­pli­ca­tion at this time.”

The coun­cil is work­ing through wa­ter is­sues, with its con­sul­ta­tive all en­com­pass­ing TANK process, and the or­der un­der­mined these ef­forts.

Fish & Game is one of five or­gan­i­sa­tions in the ap­pli­ca­tion for the or­der, an un­likely group­ing in­clud­ing en­vi­ron­men­tal lobby groups, jet­boaters, white wa­ter raft­ing, and lo­cal Clive River iwi Ng-ati Hori ki Ko­hu­patiki. Rex says it is dis­ap­point­ing the peo­ple from the Ko­hu­patiki marae have sup­ported the ap­pli­ca­tion; the HBRC has asked them to with­draw from the ap­pli­ca­tion but they have refused.

LAT­EST SCI­ENCE SUG­GESTS IN­NO­VA­TIVE SOLUTIONS NEEDED

He says there is cur­rently sig­nif­i­cantly more wa­ter al­lo­cated through ex­ist­ing re­source con­sents than is typ­i­cally used and so con­strain­ing wa­ter takes to their cur­rent ac­tual level of use will likely lead to a re­duc­tion in vol­umes con­sented to ex­ist­ing con­sent hold­ers.

“What we are say­ing now is that the ev­i­dence demon­strates we should not allow in­creased vol­umes to be taken from ground­wa­ter, let alone is­sue new wa­ter con­sents from the Here­taunga aquifer. Op­tions may ex­ist to free up some wa­ter for fur­ther al­lo­ca­tion through greater wa­ter-use ef­fi­ciency or through a stor­age scheme. There may also be scope to al­lo­cate more wa­ter in the fu­ture through aug­ment­ing stream flows from ground­wa­ter in a man­ner that re­duces the over­all en­vi­ron­men­tal im­pact. All these op­tions are be­ing ex­plored by the TANK Group.”

Mr Gra­ham says fur­ther HBRC sci­ence ad­vice pro­vided to the TANK Group in­di­cates that all ground­wa­ter takes from the Here­taunga aquifer are ul­ti­mately con­nected to sur­face wa­ter flow. The ef­fects of the takes vary with lo­ca­tion, but over time all takes are es­ti­mated to have an ef­fect on sur­face wa­ter flows. “We are all in this to­gether no mat­ter where we are on the Here­taunga Plains.”

He says coun­cil is sat­is­fied that, at the cur­rent us­age lev­els, the ground­wa­ter is not be­ing used un­sus­tain­ably as there is still con­sid­er­ably more wa­ter en­ter­ing the aquifer ev­ery year pro­vid­ing spring flows and flow­ing out to sea than is taken for use. How­ever, the cur­rent ground­wa­ter vol­umes ab­stracted over a year have a sig­nif­i­cant ef­fect on the Ngaruroro River and spring-fed streams and a detri­men­tal ef­fect on in-stream ecol­ogy.

Based on the new sci­ence HBRC staff will be rec­om­mend­ing any new con­sents for ground­wa­ter takes from the Here­taunga aquifer be de­clined un­less ap­pli­cants can demon­strate that there will be no ad­verse ef­fects on sur­face wa­ter bod­ies, par­tic­u­larly the Ngaruroro River, spring-fed streams on the Here­taunga

Plains, and on neigh­bour­ing bores.

“By law we will still have to re­ceive new con­sent applications and con­sider them, but we are giv­ing no­tice that our in­ter­nal sci­ence ad­vice is that the en­vi­ron­men­tal ef­fects of fur­ther takes must be avoided, reme­died or mit­i­gated be­fore we can allow any more al­lo­ca­tions for wa­ter takes. We hope this sig­nal will re­sult in a halt to fur­ther con­sent applications un­til the new TANK wa­ter man­age­ment frame­work has been es­tab­lished.”

The TANK group will soon be de­vel­op­ing rules to man­age ex­ist­ing takes to en­sure en­vi­ron­men­tal ef­fects are ap­pro­pri­ately man­aged or mit­i­gated, and ex­ist­ing in­vest­ment in wa­ter use is ac­counted for. The group has sig­nalled its sup­port for an ap­proach to man­ag­ing the con­straint on fur­ther al­lo­ca­tion and ex­ist­ing use in a man­ner that does not in­cen­tivise a rush for new con­sents or en­cour­age fur­ther wa­ter con­sump­tion within ex­ist­ing con­sents sim­ply to in­crease a con­sent hold­ers’ his­toric use.

“Now that we are sig­nalling that the al­lo­ca­tion of new wa­ter is com­ing to an end it is im­por­tant that peo­ple don’t try to game the sys­tem un­fairly for other wa­ter users, so we will be look­ing at rec­om­mend­ing a mech­a­nism to the TANK group that al­lo­cates wa­ter in the fu­ture based on his­toric use prior to this cur­rent win­ter.”

“We are all in this to­gether no mat­ter where we are on the Here­taunga

Plains.”

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