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What Gisborne district values most about freshwater

What Gisborne district values most about freshwater

Feedback from a series of workshops on freshwater has sent Gisborne District Council a clear message that water quality is a critical issue for the region.

Ten community workshops were held late last year and a discussion document ‘Freshwater Planning in the Gisborne District’ was distributed. More than 150 people attended the workshops and 40 submissions, some quite detailed, were received.

All the feedback will be used to help staff draft a plan for managing freshwater in the district, says policy manager Jeff Hextall. “We asked people what they valued the most about fresh water and which waterways were most important to them as a further step in the consultation process. When the Freshwater Plan is drafted later this year, it will be publicly notified and people and organisations can then make any formal submissions.”

“The Taruheru, Motu, Wharekopae and Te Arai rivers and the Waikanae Creek have been identified in the feedback as water bodies that people value highly and that need to be improved and protected. Protection of the ecology and habitat for native fish in these and other waterways is seen as critical. This will be addressed in the Freshwater Plan through regulatory and non-regulatory measures.”

“The Freshwater Plan will also cover how fresh water is allocated and limits set for nutrient levels. It is clear from the feedback that people want to make sure the changes to the allocation framework are equitable, efficient and provide for economic development. The setting of nutrient limits should be robust and use the most up-to-date decision making tools. Other feedback pointed to the fact that environmental issues should not be compromised at the expense of economic development, so some balancing will be required.”

“Practical options to manage riparian margins on farm and horticultural land were raised as an issue, as was ensuring clean, reliable drinking water sources for both reticulated and un-reticulated water supplies. Feedback was also received pointing out that water allocation for oil and gas activities needs to be considered when setting limits. Slash in waterways has been identified as something the plan should address in terms of flooding risk, water quality and its impacts on the coastal environment.”

“We were pleased with the feedback received formally and during the meetings. We heard from a diverse range of interests including those representing recreational users. There was a call to encourage water sport and water activity particularly in relation to the Waimata and Taruheru Rivers.”

All those who provided feedback and meeting attendees will be contacted regarding how their feedback is being considered and how it will feed into our planning. All submitters will be supplied with a summary of the feedback received, which is also available on Council’s website.

The Freshwater Advisory Group – a collaborative stakeholder group representing environmental, recreational, farming, forestry, horticulture and tangata whenua interests are now considering all the feedback. The group was formed in 2010 to bring together the most affected stakeholders to represent community interests and to share their concerns, viewpoints and possible solutions. While the group has a purely advisory capacity, it has the endorsement of Council's Environmental Planning and Regulations committee.

ENDS

A summary of all the feedback received on the Freshwater Discussion document is on Council’s website.

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