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HBRC opposes Water Conservation Order for Ngaruroro and Clive Rivers

The Hawke’s Bay Regional Council has today voted unanimously to oppose the Water Conservation Order (WCO) application for the Ngaruroro and Clive Rivers.

A Special Tribunal is to consider the WCO application made to the Minister for the Environment and HBRC has lodged a submission opposing the order outright to ensure the tribunal has all the evidence it needs to make an informed decision.

Hawke’s Bay Regional Council Chairman Rex Graham says the process cuts entirely across the functions and role of the Regional Planning Committee and the work of the TANK Group, which is reviewing the way land and water resources are managed in the Greater Heretaunga and Ahuriri area. TANK encompasses the Tutaekuri, Ahuriri, Ngaruroro and Karamu catchments ('TANK'), plus the Heretaunga Plains aquifer system.

“The most important thing we need to do is protect our rivers and streams and support our local economy. We acknowledge the significant values in the Ngaruroro River that warrant protection, but we do not believe this Water Conservation Order is the most appropriate tool to do that,” says Rex Graham.

“Our community’s values are much better expressed through a Plan Change and that is being looked at by the community stakeholder group involved in TANK, which is making real progress.”

The Regional Planning Committee met today to consider a submission on the WCO, but could not come to agreement, with the majority of tangata whenua representatives preferring to take a neutral position so as not to oppose the views of one of its hapū groups, who is one of the applicants.

“I understand and respect the difficult position the Regional Planning Committee is in, but this Water Conservation Order is absolute nonsense and a waste of ratepayers’ money.”

“The Council simply can’t sit on the fence on such an important matter for our community. The water conservation order as it is currently written would decimate horticulture on the Heretaunga Plains and we can’t let that happen.”

The order as written would place constraints on groundwater takes during dry summer months that are dramatically more severe than are currently being contemplated by TANK. Modelling shows in the last eight years there were an average of 10 irrigation ban days per year, but under this order there would be an average of 27 days and in an extremely dry year there would be upwards of 90 irrigation ban days.

Mr Graham says the Council owes it to Hawke’s Bay to vigorously oppose the order.

23 August 2017

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