Ruling allows grower to use Whakaahu Stream

A PATUTAHI orchardist has been granted consent to shift his water take from the Waipaoa River to a smaller waterway, despite opposition from an irrigator downstream.

Orchardist Mark De Costa applied to change his resource consent to take water from the Waipaoa River to one of its seven tributaries, the Whakaahu Stream.

The only other water consent on the stream is held by Roberts Farming Company, which runs a 13.6ha kiwifruit orchard downstream from Mr De Costa’s property.

Roberts Farming opposed the consent variation and representatives presented their submissions at a Gisborne District Council hearing in September.

Mr De Costa’s Waipaoa River consent allowed him to take up to 2160 cubic metres of water daily at 25 litres per second.

He applied for a variation to instead take water from Whakaahu Stream, which runs through his Patutahi property and where he wants to grow 13ha of apple trees.

His water take would decrease to 650 cubic metres a day, with the maximum rate also reducing to 18 litres a second.

An annual limit meant he would irrigtate at the maximum daily allowance for only 151 days in the year.

In its decision reached earlier this month the GDC hearings panel, which included councillors Amber Dunn, Larry Foster and Pat Seymour (chair), said the main issues were around the general low flow of the stream and the potential impact on Roberts Farming’s business.

Renewed water right

Roberts Farming have a renewed water right and submitted that flow levels over the last 40 years showed there could be a shortage of water in a dry year.

Roberts Farming said they had made a significant investment using the water from Whaakahu Stream and did not want this jeopardised.

In their decision the hearings panel said the higher low flow limit for Mr De Costa would give security to Roberts Farming, and ensure instream values were protected.

Consent conditions included a “buffer” where Mr De Costa would have to stop irrigating if the stream flow dropped to 30 litres a second.

Downstream at Roberts Farming the limit was 12 litres a second.

The panel found the effect on the environment was “less than minor and with appropriate conditions the benefits to the applicant and the wider region outweigh any present or future environmental effects that might result from this activity”.

Anne Roberts of Roberts Farming Company said they were “disappointed” with the decision, but respected it, “as long as the ruling is adhered to and there is daily monitoring, especially around Christmas”.

In some dry summers the stream ran so low they could not irrigate. They were concerned an extra irrigator would increase pressure on the water supply.

“The stream might not dry out this summer, but it will at some point,” Ms Roberts said.

“Water is a huge issue on the Poverty Bay Flats. We are worried at the precedent this may set. Can people now transfer consents from Waipaoa River to smaller streams?

“Water is obviously very precious to horticulture, we need it for plants to survive. We appreciate water needs to be shared, but just want to be able to carry on our business.”

A PATUTAHI orchardist has been granted consent to shift his water take from the Waipaoa River to a smaller waterway, despite opposition from an irrigator downstream.

Orchardist Mark De Costa applied to change his resource consent to take water from the Waipaoa River to one of its seven tributaries, the Whakaahu Stream.

The only other water consent on the stream is held by Roberts Farming Company, which runs a 13.6ha kiwifruit orchard downstream from Mr De Costa’s property.

Roberts Farming opposed the consent variation and representatives presented their submissions at a Gisborne District Council hearing in September.

Mr De Costa’s Waipaoa River consent allowed him to take up to 2160 cubic metres of water daily at 25 litres per second.

He applied for a variation to instead take water from Whakaahu Stream, which runs through his Patutahi property and where he wants to grow 13ha of apple trees.

His water take would decrease to 650 cubic metres a day, with the maximum rate also reducing to 18 litres a second.

An annual limit meant he would irrigtate at the maximum daily allowance for only 151 days in the year.

In its decision reached earlier this month the GDC hearings panel, which included councillors Amber Dunn, Larry Foster and Pat Seymour (chair), said the main issues were around the general low flow of the stream and the potential impact on Roberts Farming’s business.

Renewed water right

Roberts Farming have a renewed water right and submitted that flow levels over the last 40 years showed there could be a shortage of water in a dry year.

Roberts Farming said they had made a significant investment using the water from Whaakahu Stream and did not want this jeopardised.

In their decision the hearings panel said the higher low flow limit for Mr De Costa would give security to Roberts Farming, and ensure instream values were protected.

Consent conditions included a “buffer” where Mr De Costa would have to stop irrigating if the stream flow dropped to 30 litres a second.

Downstream at Roberts Farming the limit was 12 litres a second.

The panel found the effect on the environment was “less than minor and with appropriate conditions the benefits to the applicant and the wider region outweigh any present or future environmental effects that might result from this activity”.

Anne Roberts of Roberts Farming Company said they were “disappointed” with the decision, but respected it, “as long as the ruling is adhered to and there is daily monitoring, especially around Christmas”.

In some dry summers the stream ran so low they could not irrigate. They were concerned an extra irrigator would increase pressure on the water supply.

“The stream might not dry out this summer, but it will at some point,” Ms Roberts said.

“Water is a huge issue on the Poverty Bay Flats. We are worried at the precedent this may set. Can people now transfer consents from Waipaoa River to smaller streams?

“Water is obviously very precious to horticulture, we need it for plants to survive. We appreciate water needs to be shared, but just want to be able to carry on our business.”

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