Bay of plenty farmers fear consequences of water extraction limits – nz herald database list

A planning change designed to hold the line on water extraction in the bay of plenty has been criticised as having the potential to affect economic growth and seriously hinder current farming practices.

Federated farmers was putting its views on the bay of plenty regional council’s proposal to set interim limits on how much water could be extracted from the bay’s streams, rivers and underground aquifers.

Plan change 9 has been introduced as a preliminary step to hold the line until the council has better information on which to base implementation of the national policy statement on freshwater management.

Spokesman martin meier said the plan change was a pragmatic way to provide certainty and consistency across the bay and avoid a rush to snap up water allocations.Federated farmers

But he said it went well beyond a ”hold the line” approach and fell short of establishing an appropriate framework for the bay’s water management areas.

He said that in his view the council had not considered the economic impact on farming communities when it set the interim water allocation limits.

Meier said the limits were conservative when compared with the proposed national environmental standard on ecological flows and water levels.

The limits were arbitrary in the sense that they had not been, in his view, informed by science and no consideration had been given to the characteristics of each catchment or aquifer, he said.

For instance, the science for waitahanui stream at otamarakau showed that three times the proposed interim limit was available for allocation. ”however, the science has been ignored and the arbitrary limit of 10 per cent has been applied.”

meier said

The threshold chosen by the council meant 62 per cent of surface water and 21 per cent of groundwater were deemed to be over-allocated, he said.

With all resource consents coming up for renewal by 2026, and the council intending to phase out over-allocation by 2027, meier said the conservative interim limits were likely to have ”drastic consequences” for water users.

He said significant work was needed to close the gaps in the monitoring and understanding of freshwater quantity in the bay. A conservative limit would not provide for reasonable use.

Federated farmers wanted a ”more balanced” interim level for primary flows and sought a different level for smaller, more vulnerable, streams.Federated farmers

Department of conservation resource management planner herbert familton said the proposed default minimum flow was too low. It provided a very high degree of reliability for extractors but did not provide an adequate minimum flow for ecosystems.

Fonterra’s operations manager at the edgecumbe factory, allan muggeridge, sought additional amendments to ensure the factory could continue to operate viably and with certainty.

Its main concerns were that processing could continue during times of water restrictions and that new consents would enable ongoing operations at the site.

Horticulture new zealand special adviser christopher keenan asked for recognition of food production and cultivation as a national value of freshwater within the text of the plan.Hold line he also wanted a longer time frame, beyond 2027, to phase out over-allocated water.