New study into economic impacts of four scenarios related to aquifer

EDITORIAL

Economic analysis of potential impacts from four scenarios related to the Makauri Aquifer, the key irrigation source for the Poverty Bay Flats, has been extended to cover likely impacts on the entire regional economy. This work is seen as fundamental to evaluating the recharge trial taking place this winter and the potential for Managed Aquifer Recharge (MAR) into the future.

Councillors on the Environmental Planning and Regulations Committee have been provided a report updating the “Makauri Economic Project” for their meeting tomorrow.

To date analysis has covered only “on farm” impacts of the consequences of different levels of water availability in the aquifer. The Ministry for the Environment agreed late last year to fund further study into how changes in water management would impact region-wide employment, exports and income.

The study involves updating a Gisborne Regional Economic Model created in 2007, by the Auckland-based economic consultancy firm that did the original work, and is on target to be completed by May 30. Three workshops will follow, for council staff, then councillors and the project governance group, then key stakeholders including all irrigators from the Makauri Aquifer.

The background is that the main aquifer under the Poverty Bay Flats has been found to be in decline, by 2cm a year, and overallocated by about two-thirds of actual use. It is considered that if there is no recharging, irrigation volumes will need to be cut by 60-70 percent. Consent has been granted for a recharge trial, the bore for which will be completed by mid-April, to see if surface water can be safely injected to increase water availability during the irrigation season.

The four scenarios being analysed are: 1) Maintaining the status quo; 2) Decreasing irrigation volumes by 30 percent; 3) Decreasing irrigation volumes by 60 percent and 4) Increasing irrigation volumes by 30 percent.

Anaylsis so far on impacts at the “farm gate” make for interesting scenarios and will be covered in tomorrow’s editorial.

Economic analysis of potential impacts from four scenarios related to the Makauri Aquifer, the key irrigation source for the Poverty Bay Flats, has been extended to cover likely impacts on the entire regional economy. This work is seen as fundamental to evaluating the recharge trial taking place this winter and the potential for Managed Aquifer Recharge (MAR) into the future.

Councillors on the Environmental Planning and Regulations Committee have been provided a report updating the “Makauri Economic Project” for their meeting tomorrow.

To date analysis has covered only “on farm” impacts of the consequences of different levels of water availability in the aquifer. The Ministry for the Environment agreed late last year to fund further study into how changes in water management would impact region-wide employment, exports and income.

The study involves updating a Gisborne Regional Economic Model created in 2007, by the Auckland-based economic consultancy firm that did the original work, and is on target to be completed by May 30. Three workshops will follow, for council staff, then councillors and the project governance group, then key stakeholders including all irrigators from the Makauri Aquifer.

The background is that the main aquifer under the Poverty Bay Flats has been found to be in decline, by 2cm a year, and overallocated by about two-thirds of actual use. It is considered that if there is no recharging, irrigation volumes will need to be cut by 60-70 percent. Consent has been granted for a recharge trial, the bore for which will be completed by mid-April, to see if surface water can be safely injected to increase water availability during the irrigation season.

The four scenarios being analysed are: 1) Maintaining the status quo; 2) Decreasing irrigation volumes by 30 percent; 3) Decreasing irrigation volumes by 60 percent and 4) Increasing irrigation volumes by 30 percent.

Anaylsis so far on impacts at the “farm gate” make for interesting scenarios and will be covered in tomorrow’s editorial.

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