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Waitaki River Allocation National Issue

Media Release
Monday April 11th, 2005.

Waitaki River Allocation National Issue

Solutions balancing economic and environmental interests on the Waitaki River have gone begging in the draft Waitaki catchment water allocation plan, says Waitaki District Mayor Alan McLay.

With just seven working days left to make submissions on the draft plan prepared by the Government-appointed Waitaki Allocation Board, he is concerned that the issue is not receiving the national attention it deserves.

“When Project Aqua was proposed, the entire country seemed to have a view. We are now faced with a draft plan that could have significant national implications, yet people outside the region don’t seem interested,” he said.

In its submission to the Board, the Waitaki District Council will highlight concerns about higher power prices resulting from less storage in the Waitaki Valley hydro lakes during winter as well as raise doubts over reliability of water supply for irrigation.

“The irony is that the plan is seen as only affecting the Waitaki. In reality it has the ability to affect all New Zealanders.

“Our hope is that the plan will safeguard and enhance the river’s sustainability. We’re also aware that the region’s future prosperity requires sustainable irrigation and power generation. All three are possible if water is shared wisely,” Mr McLay said.

The Council’s research indicated that the draft plan did not fully address the issue of sustainability and, lacked in depth analysis on the economic costs of its recommendations.

“Sharing water between irrigation and power generation would redress the balance. Any future consents for hydro power generation could help fund work so desperately needed to enhance the river.”

Mr McLay said two thirds of the Waitaki River was already modified and the remaining stretches of river needed more resources to improve sustainability, access, flow levels and general fish stocks.

Last month, the Waitaki District Council along with the Waimate, Timaru and Mackenzie District Councils, Otago Regional Council and Environment Canterbury wrote to Water Allocation Board chairperson Judge David Sheppard outlining their collective concerns over the draft plan.

They included concerns with the submission process, which only allows for appeal to the High Court on points of law, and confusion over the rationale behind minimum flow and lake storage levels. Their request for an extended submission period has been declined.


www.waitaki.govt.nz/events to view the Council’s drat submission
www.waitakiboard.mfe.govt.nz to download the draft allocation plan
_

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