Iwi concern for aquifer

Objects to recharge, to future-proof water resource.

Objects to recharge, to future-proof water resource.

The Waipaoa River (pictured). File picture

Rongowhakaata Iwi Trust lodged a follow-on objection to a resource consent for the next stage of the Makauri Managed Aquifer Recharge (MAR) project to protect key environmental and cultural values, representatives have told The Gisborne Herald.

The trustees say they are committed to sustainable economic development, including through a vibrant farming and horticulture sector. But they have raised issues on a number of parts of the application, which seeks a variation from the original consent for the second-stage trial of potential recharging of the declining aquifer that serves 60 percent of irrigation on the Gisborne Flats.

Trustees LeRoy Pardoe and Staci Hare, with technical adviser Murray Palmer, say they have an intergenerational responsibility to future-proof the natural resources of their rohe. They say the state of the region’s water resources suggest that the allocation, use of water and — importantly — its monitoring is not sustainable.

Mr Pardoe said part of the conversation was that the iwi stand was going to impact on jobs — but this impacted on Rongowhakaata as well.

“We are part of the economy. We want it to grow.

“Water is a bigger issue for us. The aquifer is front and centre at the moment but we see it in a broader context,” he said.

Ms Hare said the Rongowhakaata iwi trust was the modern day representative of the tribal collective known as Rongowhakaata. In this role, they had a responsibility to protect and sustain the values they upheld as a mana whenua.

The MAR was not the only issue before the iwi, which had a broad sense of everything happening in the region because of the different areas the Crown was required to speak to them on. There was the freshwater plan, wastewater and a huge number of resource consents.

“This is not about stopping access but about how we are going to transition into better use and extraction of a resource that is in decline,” she said.

“We are realistic about the impact that (stopping) would have on business so we have all got to come to some form of compromise about having a way in which we move our regional economy into higher productivity, but more sustainable use of what we have.”

Mr Pardoe said irrigation practices in this district were rudimentary, based on the belief the water would come down forever.

“The opportunity is to be the most efficient water users, to encourage the knowledge economy to find innovative solutions,” he said.

“We are not going away, we are here forever — we want to be part of the solution.”

Culturally opposed to mixing waters

Mr Palmer said there were alternatives in the Golder Report that had not been fully evaluated.

One that would be more acceptable to Rongowhakaata was a natural infiltration system in the northern end of the aquifer.

Rongowhakaata had a deep cultural antipathy to the mixing of two widely different waters — the river and the aquifer.

There were alternatives to the MAR. The commissioners at the original hearing said the substantive project would require a separate consent.

The new application wanted to take extraction of water from the Waipaoa River for treatment, and injection into the aquifer, away from the winter period when the water was more turbid.

The changes in the consent application constituted a new proposal and should be publicly notified, the iwi said.

There was concern at the effects on the Waipaoa River from taking “B flow”water during the summer period (when the water flow is above 4000 litres per second).

This differed from the initial trial consent.

It was now to also be a harvest during low-to-medium flows.

Among the issues the trustees raise are —

  • The new consent proposes to increase the water-take threefold to 378,000 cubic metres, which might be about the limit that can be taken annually during winter flows. They question whether this is, in fact, the substantive project.
  • Gisborne District Council proposes to override its own expert advice regarding when water should be taken from the Waipaoa River. Instead of being confined to May to September each year, it is proposed to be allowed whenever the flow at Kanakanaia is greater than 4000 litres per second.
  • It also wants to increase the total volume that can be injected into the aquifer from 110,000 cubic metres to 365,000 cu m.
  • The consent application is predominantly from an irrigator’s perspective and the trustees ask who the ultimate beneficiaries will be. The largest water user’s take from the aquifer is 52 percent of the daily allocation and the next five largest users take 29 percent. The remaining 24 water takes are allocated 19 percent.
  • Rongowhakaata are seriously concerned at the effects of the proposed changes on the river, which is under pressure in the summer months from a number of users. The new MAR consent application that strikes out the requirement to limit the take to the winter months has no regard for the health of the river — including freshes and sediment flushing, and fish habitat, spawning and migration needs, they say.
  • Rongowhakaata say the application does not address potential effects involving the relationship between river flows and associated shallow aquifers, the Waipaoa shallow flurial, Waipaoa gravels, Te Hapara Sands and the 46 hectare Te Maungarongo wetlands.
  • If the consent is to be granted, the iwi trust submits that the applicant commission a cultural impact assessment and establish a formal ongoing relationship with the trust. The trust wants an expert independent assessment undertaken of the flows for the Waipaoa River, an independent study of the relationship between the river and associated aquifers, the period of any “B flow” water take from the river to be restricted to the wet season, typically June to September, and for the anticipated impacts of climate change on the river and associated aquifers to be identified.

Rongowhakaata Iwi Trust lodged a follow-on objection to a resource consent for the next stage of the Makauri Managed Aquifer Recharge (MAR) project to protect key environmental and cultural values, representatives have told The Gisborne Herald.

The trustees say they are committed to sustainable economic development, including through a vibrant farming and horticulture sector. But they have raised issues on a number of parts of the application, which seeks a variation from the original consent for the second-stage trial of potential recharging of the declining aquifer that serves 60 percent of irrigation on the Gisborne Flats.

Trustees LeRoy Pardoe and Staci Hare, with technical adviser Murray Palmer, say they have an intergenerational responsibility to future-proof the natural resources of their rohe. They say the state of the region’s water resources suggest that the allocation, use of water and — importantly — its monitoring is not sustainable.

Mr Pardoe said part of the conversation was that the iwi stand was going to impact on jobs — but this impacted on Rongowhakaata as well.

“We are part of the economy. We want it to grow.

“Water is a bigger issue for us. The aquifer is front and centre at the moment but we see it in a broader context,” he said.

Ms Hare said the Rongowhakaata iwi trust was the modern day representative of the tribal collective known as Rongowhakaata. In this role, they had a responsibility to protect and sustain the values they upheld as a mana whenua.

The MAR was not the only issue before the iwi, which had a broad sense of everything happening in the region because of the different areas the Crown was required to speak to them on. There was the freshwater plan, wastewater and a huge number of resource consents.

“This is not about stopping access but about how we are going to transition into better use and extraction of a resource that is in decline,” she said.

“We are realistic about the impact that (stopping) would have on business so we have all got to come to some form of compromise about having a way in which we move our regional economy into higher productivity, but more sustainable use of what we have.”

Mr Pardoe said irrigation practices in this district were rudimentary, based on the belief the water would come down forever.

“The opportunity is to be the most efficient water users, to encourage the knowledge economy to find innovative solutions,” he said.

“We are not going away, we are here forever — we want to be part of the solution.”

Culturally opposed to mixing waters

Mr Palmer said there were alternatives in the Golder Report that had not been fully evaluated.

One that would be more acceptable to Rongowhakaata was a natural infiltration system in the northern end of the aquifer.

Rongowhakaata had a deep cultural antipathy to the mixing of two widely different waters — the river and the aquifer.

There were alternatives to the MAR. The commissioners at the original hearing said the substantive project would require a separate consent.

The new application wanted to take extraction of water from the Waipaoa River for treatment, and injection into the aquifer, away from the winter period when the water was more turbid.

The changes in the consent application constituted a new proposal and should be publicly notified, the iwi said.

There was concern at the effects on the Waipaoa River from taking “B flow”water during the summer period (when the water flow is above 4000 litres per second).

This differed from the initial trial consent.

It was now to also be a harvest during low-to-medium flows.

Among the issues the trustees raise are —

  • The new consent proposes to increase the water-take threefold to 378,000 cubic metres, which might be about the limit that can be taken annually during winter flows. They question whether this is, in fact, the substantive project.
  • Gisborne District Council proposes to override its own expert advice regarding when water should be taken from the Waipaoa River. Instead of being confined to May to September each year, it is proposed to be allowed whenever the flow at Kanakanaia is greater than 4000 litres per second.
  • It also wants to increase the total volume that can be injected into the aquifer from 110,000 cubic metres to 365,000 cu m.
  • The consent application is predominantly from an irrigator’s perspective and the trustees ask who the ultimate beneficiaries will be. The largest water user’s take from the aquifer is 52 percent of the daily allocation and the next five largest users take 29 percent. The remaining 24 water takes are allocated 19 percent.
  • Rongowhakaata are seriously concerned at the effects of the proposed changes on the river, which is under pressure in the summer months from a number of users. The new MAR consent application that strikes out the requirement to limit the take to the winter months has no regard for the health of the river — including freshes and sediment flushing, and fish habitat, spawning and migration needs, they say.
  • Rongowhakaata say the application does not address potential effects involving the relationship between river flows and associated shallow aquifers, the Waipaoa shallow flurial, Waipaoa gravels, Te Hapara Sands and the 46 hectare Te Maungarongo wetlands.
  • If the consent is to be granted, the iwi trust submits that the applicant commission a cultural impact assessment and establish a formal ongoing relationship with the trust. The trust wants an expert independent assessment undertaken of the flows for the Waipaoa River, an independent study of the relationship between the river and associated aquifers, the period of any “B flow” water take from the river to be restricted to the wet season, typically June to September, and for the anticipated impacts of climate change on the river and associated aquifers to be identified.
Your email address will not be published. Comments will display after being approved by a staff member. Comments may be edited for clarity.

Poll

  • Voting please wait...
    Your vote has been cast. Reloading page...
    Do you agree with the Mayor that there is a case for returning to zebra crossings in the city centre?