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Water allocation board has listened, says Meridian

Media Release
For immediate release: 3 October 2005

Water allocation board has listened, says Meridian

State-owned power company Meridian Energy has given a cautious welcome to the Waitaki water allocation plan released today.

Chief Executive Keith Turner says it is clear that the water allocation board has listened to some of the concerns raised about the draft plan which was released earlier this year.

“We are glad to see that the board has listened carefully to some of the significant concerns that were raised about the draft plan, and has moved to address those issues in this final plan. There has been quite considerable movement on the part of the board.”

Dr Turner says he is particularly pleased that the board has reversed its position on a minimum flow in the Tekapo River, and that minimum levels in the major storage lakes will remain unchanged from existing resource consents.

However, he says Meridian has some concerns about provision for a 150 cumec minimum flow on the lower Waitaki River, almost double the current consented minimum, and will be studying this aspect of the plan to understand its implications for existing hydro generation.

He says there also appears to be some uncertainties for irrigators in terms of security of water supply.

“At first glance the plan appears to leave potential for further hydro development on the lower river.”

However, he says the plan highlights wider concerns regarding the certainty of allocations over the long term under the Resource Management Act 1991

Dr Turner says given that little appears to have changed from the present situation on the river, he questions the value of such a long and costly process.

“What we have now is a plan which does not materially change the existing situation on the river. I can’t help but wonder why all of this was necessary.”

Dr Turner says Meridian will now be studying the plan in detail in order to fully understand its impact on the company’s existing hydro stations on the Waitaki river, and on the options for further hydro and irrigation development on the lower river.

ENDS

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