Waimakariri River Regional Plan Change
Waimakariri River Regional Plan Change To Be Explored
Environment Canterbury councillors today agreed to investigate a plan change to the Waimakariri River Regional Plan. The current plan sets an allocation limit for reliable run-of-river water takes (called the A block). However, the plan only provides policies and objectives for allocation above the A block limit*.
The aim of the change is to protect the frequency of the river’s regular flushing flows which are essential for maintaining its braided character and instream values.
“The A block is now fully allocated,” said ECan chief executive Dr Bryan Jenkins. “There is a need to set allocation limits on the extraction of less reliable water, called the B block. When the original plan was drafted in the mid 1990s, the level of demand for less reliable irrigation water was not anticipated.”
ECan natural resources planning manager John Glennie said that protecting the river’s flushing flows was important for the river’s ecological health. “These flows clean off undesirable algal growths that smother the gravel in summer when the river flows are low and the water is warmer. These freshes also remove the sediment that settles between the gravel, which benefits freshwater insect larvae, the food of birds and fish.”
* A block water permit-holders cease taking water when river flow is below 41 cumecs/cubic metres per second, B block permit-holders cease taking water at 63 cumecs. In many years the river falls below 63 cumecs February - March, when irrigators most often want to use it.