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Community water meetings begin this week

October 30, 2006


MEDIA STATEMENT

Community water meetings begin this week October 31 – November 9

Environment Canterbury scientists, planners and politicians are attending more than a dozen meetings from Kaikoura to Waimate in the next fortnight to discuss water management with local communities.

The first meetings are tomorrow, Tuesday, October 31 in Hinds in the morning and Chertsey in the afternoon on the state of water resources. These “state of water resources” meetings are a forum for the local community, in particular irrigators, to hear about pressures on the water resource for the coming summer and where any hot spots are likely to arise.

Topics for discussion include the current state of river and groundwater locally; the climate forecast for the 06/07 irrigation season; local consents issues and an overview of the Restorative Programme for Lowland Streams, which began this year in the Rakaia-Selwyn groundwater zone.

Similar “state of water resource” meetings are also scheduled for Dunsandel on the afternoon of November 9 and West Melton, from 7 to 9.30 pm the same day.

“Environment Canterbury has been running these early irrigation season water overview meetings for several years now with a very strong response from local communities. Politicians, planners and scientists get a good chance to hear back from people in the field about problems they are encountering and to gain local knowledge and insights,” said ECan chief executive Dr Bryan Jenkins.

“This season we are adding in specific meetings targeted to the Rakaia-Selwyn groundwater zone, where we have had increasingly low water levels in streams in recent summers.

“We are also meeting to discuss a plan change with consent holders and others to make our groundwater allocation system more equitable across all groundwater zones. We recently reassessed the available groundwater in the Waipara groundwater zone based on new geological information from the University of Canterbury. We need our allocation rules to be flexible enough to meet these changes, hence the need for a rule Variation to our proposed Natural Resources Regional Plan.”

Meetings specifically dealing with the Restorative Programme for Lowland Streams in the Rakaia-Selwyn groundwater zone will be held in Dunsandel on November 2 (morning and evening) and Leeston November 6 (morning and evening). As a result of reduced lowland stream flows, made worse by several years of low winter rainfall and increasing irrigation, a group of interested parties is advising ECan on ways to address inconsistencies in the conditions applied to resource consents in the Rakaia-Selwyn groundwater zone.

The third group of meetings concern a possible amendment in the way ECan assesses groundwater availability in its groundwater zones. Council is considering explicitly including the interim allocation block limits for each groundwater zone in Schedule WQN4 so that actual quantity of water available is specified.

This alternative approach, if it goes ahead, would become Variation 4 of the proposed Natural Resources Regional Plan. The implications of it will be discussed at the meetings with consent-holders.

This third group of meetings, about including the groundwater zone allocation limits in Schedule WQN4, are taking place in Timaru (November 6, afternoon); Waimate (November 6, evening); Ashburton (November 7, afternoon); Christchurch (November 7, evening); Waipara (November 8, afternoon) and Kaikoura (November 8, evening).

--

Place and venue Date and time Topic
Hinds Community Centre Tuesday, Oct 31, 9.30 am - midday State of Water
Chertsey Community Centre Tuesday, Oct 31, 1.30 pm – 4 pm State of Water
Dunsandel Community Hall Thursday, Nov 2, 10 am - midday Restorative Programme
Dunsandel Community Hall Thursday, Nov 2, 7.30 – 9.30 pm Restorative Programme
Leeston Rugby Football clubrooms Monday, Nov 6, 10 am - midday Restorative Programme
Leeston Rugby Football clubrooms Monday, Nov 6, 7.30 – 9.30 pm Restorative Programme
Timaru ECan office Monday, Nov 6, 1-3 pm Variation 4
Waimate, St Patrick’s Church, Cameron St Monday, Nov 6, 7-9 pm Variation 4
Ashburton Hotel Tuesday, Nov 7, 1-3 pm Variation 4
Christchurch ECan office, 58 Kilmore St Tuesday, Nov 7, 7-9 pm Variation 4
Waipara Community Hall Wed, Nov 8, 1-3 pm Variation 4
Kaikoura Memorial Hall Wed, Nov 8, 7-9 pm Variation 4
Dunsandel Community Hall Thursday, Nov 9, 1.30 – 4 pm State of Water
West Melton Community Centre Thursday, Nov 9, 7-9.30 pm State of Water


ENDS

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