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Community feedback sought on Arrow River water allocation

21 June 2017
Community feedback sought on Arrow River water allocation

One hundred and fifty years ago the Arrow River found fame as the one of the first sites where gold was discovered in Otago. More recently it has been a draw for Lord of the Rings fans.

Because water is so closely connected to the Wakatipu Basin’s history, and remains vital for key sectors such as agriculture and tourism, as well as a home to trout, the Otago Regional Council is seeking community input into how it should be allocated for the years to come.

A consultative process resulting in changes to the Otago Water Plan taps into local knowledge about how the various demands made on the catchment and the Wakatipu Basin aquifers can be met sustainably.

ORC will be holding drop-in sessions where people can get information and provide feedback. These will be held at the Arrowtown Bowling Club (Monday 26 June from 1pm to 3pm, and 6pm to 8pm) and the Queenstown Events Centre (Tuesday 27 June 12.30pm to 2.30pm).

Each drop-in session will start with a brief presentation on the purpose of the plan change and the process it will follow. Afterwards people can talk to council staff, and describe their own values for the catchment and aquifers.

ORC Chief Executive Peter Bodeker said the changes to the water plan would involve setting minimum flows and water allocation limits for the Arrow River catchment, and groundwater allocation limits for the nine Wakatipu Basin aquifers.

Minimum flows ensure that those using water can continue to operate, while enough water remains in lakes and rivers to preserve aquatic wildlife and the natural character of waterways. Allocation limits are set to avoid over-allocation and maintain supply for water takers.

Mr Bodeker said gold still drew people to the Arrow River, which is popular with recreational miners, and they are among the groups ORC is encouraging to share what’s important to them about the catchment.
The Arrow is a tributary of the Kawarau River, which in turn feeds into the Clutha.
Mr Bodeker said all of the Wakatipu Basin aquifers had at least one domestic water take on them, and as some people may be taking water from springs, they were another group the council was keen to hear from to help shape a picture of water use in the area.

New Zealand native fish the koaro and the freshwater crayfish (koura) are found in the catchment, along with brown trout and rainbow trout, which need careful consideration.

“We need locals and other stakeholders to let us know what’s important to them in the catchment, so that we can ensure it is well managed now and for future generations,” Mr Bodeker said.

After this first series of drop-in sessions, further stages of community consultation (due towards the end of the year) will enable discussions on the summary of community feedback, and minimum flow and allocation options. A third consultation next year will enable discussion on a preferred option which aims to protect the catchment’s values, whilst sustaining economic activity.

This will then be followed by a formal plan change process. More information about the process is available atwww.orc.govt.nz/Arrow


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