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Good progress with geothermal consents


Good progress with geothermal consents

For immediate release: Friday 21 October 2005

Rotorua residents and businesses are looking after their geothermal resource better.

Environment Bay of Plenty monitoring has shown a major turnaround in the way people are complying with resource consent conditions for bore use. At the moment, 85% of consent holders are in the top categories for compliance. Three years ago, that figure was only 21%.

Environmental compliance officer Mike Collins told a regulation and monitoring committee meeting recently that staff had taken a strong education approach in some cases – and a firm regulatory one in others.

They had worked closely with people with moderate compliance to lift them into the high compliance category. Many were older residents who had breached their consent because they did not supply flow and temperature data.

In all cases of non-compliance, staff served abatement notices. They then followed up to make sure the consent holder fixed the problem.

Mr Collins says six sites still rated as poor because they did not have re-injection systems. Historically production bore systems discharged spent geothermal fluid in shallow soak holes. They are now required to re-inject the fluid into the ground at the same depth as it was removed. This helps keep the geothermal field in good health.

Environment Bay of Plenty monitors resource consents in the Rotorua geothermal field at least once every three years, generally in the winter months. Over the past year, staff checked 120 consents on 83 sites. They ranged from small bores used by a single household to large-volume production bores supplying a number of users, including businesses.

“We’ve had a chequered history with this issue but have made good progress now,” Mr Collins says.


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