Water for stock a key planning submission

Freshwater plan hearings traverse many issues

Freshwater plan hearings traverse many issues

PERMITTED drinking rates for stock were a key area of contention at the second hearing on Gisborne District Council’s proposed freshwater plan, the panel hearing submissions was told by the council’s strategic planning manager David Wilson.

Other issues during the two-day hearing would be the municipal water supply, the managing of water permits, over-allocation of permits, permitted takes and transfers of water.

He was speaking at the start of the second of four planned hearings. This one was concerned with water quantity.
There were 27 submission points on the permitted take provisions, Mr Wilson said.

The main issues raised related to the provision of stock drinking water, requests for additional permitted takes and ensuring permitted takes did not result in adverse environmental effects.

The section 42A report that reviewed the draft plan had recommended a number of minor amendments, including removing the references to intensively farmed stock.

However, one key area of contention that remained related to the rule setting takes for drinking stock water at rates of less than five litres per second, per property.

Submitters had argued that this limit was unnecessary and contrary to the Resource Management Act, which provided for the taking and use of water for reasonable domestic and animal drinking purposes. Submitters including Federated Farmers had asked for it to be deleted.

However, the Section 42A report emphasised that access to stock drinking water was not an unrestricted right under the RMA. It recommended that the rule be retained in the plan, as many water bodies in the region had very low flows during summer and might be vulnerable to the cumulative effects of a range of permitted takes with no limits on volume.

Areas of contention

Other areas of contention within the permitted take provisions referred to the rule in the plan that would restrict permitted takes to areas of not more than one hectare. Submitters suggested it was the volume of a take that was important, not the area it served.

There were 14 submissions on the Gisborne municipal water supply. The main issues raised related to the priority of urban industries over rural industries, the requirements for the water demand, minimum flow requirements for the municipal supply and the metering of domestic and industrial water users in the city.

A number of amendments had been recommended, including that, when minimum flows were reached in the Waipaoa River, water could be taken only for domestic and sanitation municipal issues rather than commercial municipal users, requirements for a water demand management plan for the municipal supply, a new policy to restrict the water take at the Te Arai Bush intake and setting a minimum flow by 2026 and including community water supplies as a restricted discretionary activity alongside the municipal supply.

Fifteen submissions relating to the water restriction provisions in the plan were aimed at providing additional policy guidance on priorities for water use during water shortages, given the frequency of droughts in Gisborne.

Forty submissions related to managing water permit provisions in the plan. Main issues were the default five-year permit duration, establishing efficient and reasonable use of water default minimum flows, cultural considerations and the requirements for irrigation management plans.

Main issues for the 12 submitters on the over-allocation provisions were providing greater details on how over-allocation would be phased out and avoided in the future, clarifying how reasonable use and and efficiency would be assessed, and permit durations in over-allocated catchments.

For the eight submitters on water transfers the issues were the limitations on over-allocated catchments and enabling transfers to promote efficiency in water use, Mr Wilson said.

PERMITTED drinking rates for stock were a key area of contention at the second hearing on Gisborne District Council’s proposed freshwater plan, the panel hearing submissions was told by the council’s strategic planning manager David Wilson.

Other issues during the two-day hearing would be the municipal water supply, the managing of water permits, over-allocation of permits, permitted takes and transfers of water.

He was speaking at the start of the second of four planned hearings. This one was concerned with water quantity.
There were 27 submission points on the permitted take provisions, Mr Wilson said.

The main issues raised related to the provision of stock drinking water, requests for additional permitted takes and ensuring permitted takes did not result in adverse environmental effects.

The section 42A report that reviewed the draft plan had recommended a number of minor amendments, including removing the references to intensively farmed stock.

However, one key area of contention that remained related to the rule setting takes for drinking stock water at rates of less than five litres per second, per property.

Submitters had argued that this limit was unnecessary and contrary to the Resource Management Act, which provided for the taking and use of water for reasonable domestic and animal drinking purposes. Submitters including Federated Farmers had asked for it to be deleted.

However, the Section 42A report emphasised that access to stock drinking water was not an unrestricted right under the RMA. It recommended that the rule be retained in the plan, as many water bodies in the region had very low flows during summer and might be vulnerable to the cumulative effects of a range of permitted takes with no limits on volume.

Areas of contention

Other areas of contention within the permitted take provisions referred to the rule in the plan that would restrict permitted takes to areas of not more than one hectare. Submitters suggested it was the volume of a take that was important, not the area it served.

There were 14 submissions on the Gisborne municipal water supply. The main issues raised related to the priority of urban industries over rural industries, the requirements for the water demand, minimum flow requirements for the municipal supply and the metering of domestic and industrial water users in the city.

A number of amendments had been recommended, including that, when minimum flows were reached in the Waipaoa River, water could be taken only for domestic and sanitation municipal issues rather than commercial municipal users, requirements for a water demand management plan for the municipal supply, a new policy to restrict the water take at the Te Arai Bush intake and setting a minimum flow by 2026 and including community water supplies as a restricted discretionary activity alongside the municipal supply.

Fifteen submissions relating to the water restriction provisions in the plan were aimed at providing additional policy guidance on priorities for water use during water shortages, given the frequency of droughts in Gisborne.

Forty submissions related to managing water permit provisions in the plan. Main issues were the default five-year permit duration, establishing efficient and reasonable use of water default minimum flows, cultural considerations and the requirements for irrigation management plans.

Main issues for the 12 submitters on the over-allocation provisions were providing greater details on how over-allocation would be phased out and avoided in the future, clarifying how reasonable use and and efficiency would be assessed, and permit durations in over-allocated catchments.

For the eight submitters on water transfers the issues were the limitations on over-allocated catchments and enabling transfers to promote efficiency in water use, Mr Wilson said.

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