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Commissioners impose moratorium for Waiau River

November 24, 2010

MEDIA STATEMENT

Commissioners impose moratorium for Waiau River

Environment Canterbury Commissioners voted today to impose a moratorium on the Waiau River to take, dam, divert or use water.

The moratorium will come into effect from December 6 until October 1, 2011, aligning with the Hurunui decision taken in August.

Existing resource consents will not be affected by the moratorium. New consent applications submitted after December 6 will not be processed and will be returned to the applicants.

Commissioner Peter Skelton said that the river was one of only two alpine rivers in Canterbury not covered by a water conservation order or a water management plan.

While the A block water in the Waiau River is fully allocated, water is available in the B Block allocation which, if stored, could meet the area’s irrigation needs as well as help the Hurunui-Waiau zone committee satisfy the various targets specified by the Canterbury Water Management Strategy.

Commissioner Skelton said that the river was strategically important and interest had been expressed in using the water for hydro electricity generation, irrigation and storage.

“The Natural Resources Regional Plan does not adequately cover these competing interests.

“The collaborative approach undertaken by the Zone Committee and the Regional Committee will bring stakeholders and organisations together to formulate and agree on a zone implementation plan before the consenting process can resume.

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“Community involvement, with leadership and support from district councils and Environment Canterbury, is the key to ensuring long-lasting solutions to the region’s water management challenges.”

“The Waiau moratorium is complementary to the Hurunui moratorium, which was imposed by Environment Canterbury on August 2 to provide time to put in place an integrated and forward-looking planning framework in place for that catchment.

“An integrated water solution for the Hurunui-Waiau zone will recognise the high recreational, ecological, fishing, and cultural values of the Waiau catchment, as well as taking into account the needs of farmers,” said Commissioner Skelton.

Environment Canterbury sought and received prior approval from Minister for the Environment Nick Smith to consider a moratorium, as required in the Environment Canterbury (Temporary Commissioners and Improved Water Management) Act.

ENDS

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