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Joint taskforce to address Central Hawke’s Bay water quantity issues


Hawke’s Bay Regional and Central Hawke’s Bay District Councils are bringing together a taskforce to manage the short, medium and long-term water quantity issues in Central Hawke’s Bay.

Management, science, consenting and planning staff from both councils met with Central Hawke’s Bay District Councillors and the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council’s Central Hawke’s Bay Councillor Debbie Hewitt yesterday to discuss water quantity issues and potential solutions.

The message to the meeting was that the science clearly shows groundwater levels in the Ruataniwha Basin have dropped as extraction for irrigation has dramatically increased over the last few years. However, levels are expected to stabilise to a new equilibrium with extraction limits in place.

The two councils agreed on a number of initiatives:

• Bring together a taskforce to manage water quantity in the short, medium and long term in Central Hawke’s Bay.
• Undertake a survey of Tikokino and Ongaonga residents to better understand their current water supply situation, to inform assistance offered by the two councils.
• Hold a joint community forum before Christmas to discuss the water management challenges in Central Hawke’s Bay and increase public awareness.
• Work closely with water users (irrigators and industrial users) and the wider community to deal with the new minimum flows in the Tukituki Catchment, which are likely to have an effect on irrigation this summer.

The Regional Council also has a programme of science underway, which includes reviewing the groundwater monitoring network to re-develop the Ruataniwha Groundwater Model, investigating the possibility of managed aquifer recharge, and plans for an electro-magnetic aerial survey of the aquifer geology, which will give the Regional Council the ability to manage the water takes and their impacts with far greater precision and certainty.

Central Hawke’s Bay District Council Chief Executive Monique Davidson says everyone at yesterday’s meeting recognises there is a significant challenge facing Central Hawke’s Bay with regards to the supply of water.

“The Hawke’s Bay Regional and Central Hawke’s Bay District Councils are committed to working together with our community to find long term solutions, as well as supporting people and businesses through the challenges they are facing right now,” says Monique Davidson.

“This joint approach will ensure the best decisions are made for our community and our district’s vital groundwater resource. Central Hawke’s Bay District Council recognises the critical leadership role it plays in working alongside the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council on this matter.”

“We understand the community’s concerns and are committed to assisting the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council to find solutions that balance the social, economic, environmental and cultural needs of our community.”

Hawke’s Bay Regional Council Chief Executive James Palmer agrees and says yesterday’s meeting was a positive joint step towards addressing water quantity challenges in Central Hawke’s Bay.

“There is no quick fix to solve all the challenges, but the plans we have put in place will help build a clear picture of how we can sustainably manage groundwater use in Central Hawke’s Bay in the future, while supporting the community through the coming summer as well,” says Mr Palmer.
Meanwhile, he says the Regional Council is still awaiting the additional science requested from those applying for a piece of the extra 15 million cubic metres of water released by the Board of Inquiry, known as Tranche 2 water. He says that science is expected next month, and It is likely the Regional Council will request those applications are heard through a publically notified consent hearing.


7 September 2018

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