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Dams need approval before they are built says ARC

Dams need approval before they are built says ARC

10 February 2004

The Auckland Regional Council is sending another strong message to landowners and to contractors warning that dams must be approved by the ARC before they are constructed.

“People wanting to build a dam on their property must contact the ARC first for advice as to the steps they need to take,” said Environmental Management Committee Chair Brian Smith. “Contractors should not start dam construction without checking that either it has a consent or it is a ‘permitted activity’ under ARC rules.”

Dams can degrade water quality by creating warm, stagnant ponds that encourage exotic weed growth. The ponds are hostile environments for native fish and plants that are used to cooler flowing waters. Dams can also block the movement of fish up and down streams which is crucial for their migratory breeding cycle.

“One of the major problems we come across is the effect on neighbours, particularly where dams are built close to a property boundary,” said Water Resources Officer Jonathan Moores.

In the past year, several landowners and contractors have been fined and/or ordered to remove illegal dams that were causing problems to neighbours or the environment.

In October 2003, the ARC sent letters to all known earthmoving contractors in the region explaining that all dams require ARC approval before they are built.

“We sent a message to contractors that if they build dams that have not been authorised by a resource consent, or that fail to comply with permitted activity requirements for dams, we will be issuing environmental infringement notices,” Mr Moores said.

Subsequently, a contractor was issued with a $500 fine in December by the ARC. The contractor had built the dam knowing that it had not been approved, despite having received the ARC information.

The dam was built because the landowners wanted a pond on their property. Within a week of being built it had already developed significant weed growth.

It was brought to the ARC’s attention by a neighbouring landowner, who found the water levels in a stream on his property reduced considerably and were insufficient for his stock to drink from.

As well as issuing a fine to the contractor, the ARC ordered that the dam be deconstructed, the costs of which fell to the landowner.

There are around 5000 dams in the Auckland region. “The ARC’s concern is that as more and more dams are built, the cumulative effect on the streams increases,” said Mr Moores.

“For people who want to create a pond, we encourage them to build them in areas away from permanent streams to avoid the above problems,” said Mr Moores. “You’re more likely to get approval without needing a consent.”

ENDS

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