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Waitaki water allocation plan a step closer

Waitaki water allocation plan a step closer

A regional plan to guide water allocation in the Waitaki Catchment is a step closer with Parliament passing the special Waitaki legislation today, Environment Minister Marian Hobbs said.

The new law amends the Resource Management Act and will establish an independent Water Allocation Board to develop the plan. The Board will have 12 months to finalise the plan.

"There are substantial competing demands for Waitaki Catchment water and we want to ensure its allocation is equitable, expedient and transparent," Marian Hobbs said. "The regional plan will improve decision-making by clearly setting out the objectives, policies, methods and rules to allocate water.

"Public involvement is an important part of the plan’s development. There will be submissions and public hearings on the draft plan when it is ready."

Consistent with the Resource Management Act, the plan will provide for: priority uses of water for stock, domestic use and fire fighting sustaining the environmental values of Waitaki Catchment water how to allocate water to various activities (including electricity generation) managing the allocated water, including when water levels are low.

The regional plan will be administered by Environment Canterbury (Canterbury Regional Council) under the Resource Management Act.

"I'm confident the water allocation plan will establish a robust framework for decision-makers to work within," Marian Hobbs said.

In July, Meridian Energy confirmed it was not withdrawing its consent applications for Project Aqua.

"The legislation is not affected by the status of Meridian’s consent applications."

Applications to use Waitaki Catchment water (and related applications) will stay on hold until the plan is completed. Any new applications will be treated the same way.

The Resource Management (Waitaki Catchment) Amendment Bill was passed today and is awaiting royal assent. The Minister expects to announce the Water Allocation Board members in the coming weeks.

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