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Stronger Controls on Irrigation but Amnesty Offered

Media Release
8 November 2012

Stronger Controls on Irrigation but Amnesty Offered

Hawke’s Bay Regional Council is using new tools to identify property owners that are taking water from wells and rivers and irrigating without resource consent.

On the first day using the tools, HBRC Compliance officers located three properties in the Twyford area that were using irrigation without the required resource consents.

“We have always been able to make these checks but we can now use new software and computer tablets in the field,” says Compliance & Harbours Manager, Bryce Lawrence.

“This gives us access to our resource consent database on site so we can immediately confirm whether or not the property we see irrigating is doing so legally.”

Irrigators are urged to check their resource consents to be sure they know the actual conditions stated and that they are complying with these. If any irrigators or property owners are currently irrigating, or intending to take and use water for irrigation, without having a resource consent, they need to contact HBRC immediately.

HBRC is offering a two week amnesty to anyone taking water and/or irrigating without a resource consent. The amnesty will run from Monday 12 November to Friday 23 November.
“We want to give people a chance to do the right thing,” says Mr Lawrence.

“Not only are these activities illegal, they make it difficult for HBRC to manage our community’s water resources accurately. It is also unfair to those property owners who have consents and are therefore contributing to the science that HBRC must do to manage our shared water resources – they are effectively subsidising illegal irrigators.”

HBRC’s Group Manager Resource Management, Iain Maxwell, says that HBRC compliance officers will be targeting areas that are sensitive because the water resource is either close to, or fully, allocated, but that staff will also be doing random audits in other areas.

“The chance of detection is therefore quite high now, so I urge all irrigators to do the right thing and check they are taking their water legally. After the amnesty, our flexibility with solutions will be reduced,” he says.

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