James Palmer, HBRC’s Group Manager Strategic Development, says it’s premature to consider a Water Conservation Order or WCO application for the Ngaruroro and Clive Rivers while a planning process is already under way in this catchment.
Mr Palmer indicates that Council does not oppose the consideration of a Water Conservation Order per se, but poses the question of timing and the best process.
"HBRC agrees it is necessary to protect the outstanding values of some parts of the Ngaruroro River and believes this will happen through the current TANK planning process. By law we are required to protect significant values of outstanding water bodies in the region, so the WCO will duplicate effort for local communities and the council but in a process that is not locally driven," he adds.
TANK is HBRC’s name for the Plan Change project working collaboratively with a wide group of stakeholders. The TANK group’s goal is to set limits, measures and a monitoring regime to manage water resources in the TutaekurÄ«, greater Ahuriri, Ngaruroro and KaramÅ« catchments - where approximately 80% of the Hawke’s Bay population live and work.
Mr Palmer says the current application includes lower parts of the Ngaruroro, the Clive River and associated groundwater, so would also affect the TutaekurÄ« River and KaramÅ« stream, all operating in a connected system.
"As it’s written, the application impacts on significant cultural, social and economic values over a very wide area - a space where Council has already started an integrated, holistic approach through the TANK planning process," adds Mr Palmer.
HBRC developed a surface-groundwater model for the Tukituki catchment and is taking the same approach for TANK, to help determine what controls on water use are needed to meet the community’s objectives and protect important values. The model will be ready later this year.
The TANK stakeholder group began its collaborative process in 2012, but progress has been frustrated by the availability of scientific information.
"We’re concerned that a WCO process will complicate TANK’s current work programme, undermine the group’s work by pre-empting their deliberations, and duplicate efforts. Worst still such a WCO would be considered without the necessary groundwater science to back it up," concludes Mr Palmer.
While HBRC’s Regional Planning Committee is asking the Minister for the Environment to decline this application, it considers that a future application to reinforce recognition of the outstanding values identified through the TANK process could be made once the plan change process has completed.
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