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Waipara groundwater recharge zone extended

October 24, 2006

Waipara groundwater recharge zone extended, more water available

Environment Canterbury has increased the annual allocation limit for the Waipara groundwater zone to 10.7 million cubic metres per year, replacing the limit of 7.8 million cubic metres per year adopted in July.

Since July, work undertaken on behalf of Environment Canterbury has led to the revision of the Waipara groundwater zone annual allocation limit and a recommendation that the extent of the zone be adjusted to be consistent with the latest geological information from the area. The zone will continue to be managed as a single groundwater zone.

Although the change to the allocation limit takes immediate effect, a Variation to the proposed Natural Resources Regional Plan (NRRP) is required to change the actual boundary of the Waipara groundwater zone. This change will be included as part of Variation 4 to the NRRP, the subject of public meetings across Canterbury from November 6-8. (venues and dates on stakeholder flier attached).

It was concluded that the groundwater zone should be based on the extent of the late Quaternary gravels as shown in the most recent geological maps compiled by the University of Canterbury and that a new groundwater allocation limit should be calculated using the revised map. An addendum to Environment Canterbury Report U05/87 (see link below) presents the basis for the revised allocation limit, taking account of the larger area and recent changes in land use.

The complex geology of this area coupled with the fact that groundwater records have only been available for a short time means that there is potential for future changes to the groundwater allocation limit as further information becomes available.

Based on the reviewed geology, the proposed new zone boundary encompasses 12,857 hectares, an area 27.5% larger than that used for the previous calculation of the annual allocation limit.

Environment Canterbury has issued water use permits in the Waipara groundwater zone for 7.45 million cubic metres per year and has consent applications pending for a further 2.69 million cubic metres per year. Based on actual allocation, this zone reverts to white (or less than 80 per cent allocated). If all pending applications are granted, the zone status would be yellow (80-100 per cent allocated).

“This is clearly good news for Waipara people with water use consent applications pending. However, it is important that people remain mindful that groundwater is still a scarce resource in this zone and that the granting of a few relatively small consents could result in this zone becoming fully allocated,” said Environment Canterbury chief executive Dr Bryan Jenkins.


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