Hawke’s Bay has reached a major milestone in having a comprehensive freshwater catchment plan for the Tūtaekurī, Ahuriri, Ngaruroro and Karamū waterbodies.
The panel of five Independent Hearing Commissioners today released its landmark decisions on submissions to the TANK plan for the management of water quality and water quantity in the Tūtaekurī, Ahuriri, Ngaruroro and Karamū catchments. The TANK plan is formally referred to as Proposed Plan Change 9.
Regional Council Chief Executive James Palmer welcomed the decisions from the Commissioners which pave the way for the plan to be adopted, subject to any appeals made against the decisions.
“This plan is about the present and future health of our waterways, the arteries that sustain our natural environment and supply our twin cities and adjacent industries, where 85% of Hawke’s Bay people live, work and play,” says Mr Palmer.
“I want to express my thanks to every part of our community for the submissions made to this plan, to the Commissioners’ for their deliberations, and to the Regional Council’s staff for their commitment to date to reflect in this plan what our community values most.”
“Our journey towards an operative catchment plan for the waterways of the Heretaunga Plains has been ten years in the making. To an outsider the timeline seems incredible, but not when you consider the complexity of what this plan covers, and the broad group of stakeholder interests it represents.
Based on multi-million dollar, state-of-the-art science investment by ratepayers, the plan involved five years of collaborative work by a representative community group, and two years of deliberations by the Regional Planning Committee, comprising equal numbers of councillors and iwi representatives,” said Mr Palmer.
This is reflected in the Commissioners’ decision report, which states “this is one of the most complex plan changes the respective panel members have considered. It contains some sophisticated, very complex and interrelated technical components on the management of surface water and groundwater quality and quantity. There are strong links between flows in rivers and streams, and water levels in the aquifer.”
The plan includes minimum river flows and allocation limits, with an “interim allocation limit” for Heretaunga Plains groundwater of 90 million cubic metres per annum. It gives priority to the ecosystem needs of the waterways for their natural function, ahead of essential needs for human health and abstraction.
This plan also provides objectives, policies, and rules to manage water takes and use, and to improve water quality. This includes minimum flow and allocation limits for takes at high and low flows, and restrictions on groundwater takes on the Heretaunga Plains. Water quality will be better managed through addressing stormwater discharges and diffuse contamination from land. The plan change continues to reflect the wider stakeholder commitment to collaborative approaches to meet freshwater objectives.
The Commissioners also recognised the passion of iwi submitters and that there were many important learnings from the collaborative TANK process for the Council which are important for a strengthening future partnership with tāngata whenua.
Information on the TANK Plan and the details of the decisions adopted by the Commissioners in their decisions is at hbrc.govt.nz, search: #tank
9 September 2022
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