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Ecan water ruling washes well with Greens

30 June 2004

Ecan water ruling washes well with Greens

Green Co-Leader Jeanette Fitzsimons has welcomed Ecan's decision to take a protective approach to Canterbury's threatened ground water resources.

Ecan, the Canterbury regional council, has ruled against a resource consent application from the Lynton and Pine Grove dairy companies, both owned by Dairy Holdings, to take a small river's worth of water from the Te Pirita aquifer to develop four farms.

"Once again, we are seeing signs that water is becoming as strategic a resource as oil," said Ms Fitzsimons, the Green Party's Environment Spokesperson.

"Lets be clear about this - a herd of 3000 cows being intensively farmed in a water-short area is not, in any way, shape or form, sustainable land use.

"So I welcome Ecan's decision to draw a line before the water runs out and hope that this becomes a precedent for future water decisions around the country. A consistent approach nationwide would hopefully disabuse all types of developers of the delusion that they can take as much water as they want. Water is a finite resource, so no one should expect to be able to take more than their fair share.

"In areas where aquifers are becoming depleted the first principle should always be that water is used as efficiently and democratically as possible. This should equally apply when old consents come up for re-consenting, councils should not be afraid to roll back unsustainable water usage.

"Dairy Holdings is right to say that it is unfair that they were the only users of the aquifer required to notify their application. In future all attempts anywhere to take water beyond very small amounts must be notified so other stakeholders get a fair opportunity to make submissions on the effect on them.

"But for the company to even contemplate taking 560 litres a second, equivalent to more than half of Christchurch's average domestic use per second, in a district already facing water issues demonstrates a complete lack of ecological and social awareness. That they should invest $18 million when their water supply was obviously not guaranteed brings into question their business nous as well," said Ms Fitzsimons.


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