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Irrigators issue word of warning on moratorium

Media Statement

November 24, 2010

Irrigators issue word of warning on moratorium

The decision by Environment Canterbury Commissioners to impose a moratorium on the Waiau River catchment makes sense, but it comes with a word of warning from the national body representing irrigation interests in New Zealand.

While supporting the concept, IrrigationNZ has highlighted concern in respect to potential multiple decision making processes.

“We are happy with the moratorium in principle. It makes sense to bring the Hurunui and Waiau together and give time for the Canterbury Water Management Strategy to follow through a logical process to get a robust outcome,” IrrigationNZ chairman Graeme Sutton said.

Sutton suggested Canterbury’s water management problems of the past had largely been due to multiple processes happening.

“We definitely don’t want to face this challenge creeping into play again.”
Sutton said IrrigationNZ believes the CWMS process is the right vehicle for reaching sustainable outcomes for water management in Canterbury particularly as all stakeholders have committed to it.

“We don’t believe continuation with the proposed Hurunui Water Conservation Order is the right way forward and we are hoping that commonsense will prevail. Having a conservation order process running parallel to the CWMS regional and zonal committees would be very unproductive.”

It would make sense for the applicants, New Zealand Fish and Game Council, North Canterbury Fish and Game Council and New Zealand Recreational Canoeing Association, to withdraw the application and show true commitment to the CWMS process, Sutton said.

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.

Sutton suggested the WCO may have a role long term, but short term the CWMS was the right framework engaging collaborative decision making to achieve robust outcomes.

The proposed moratorium to take, dam, divert or use water, will come into effect on December 6, 2010 and will stay in force until October 1, 2011 to align with the Hurunui River catchment moratorium.

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.

The Waiau moratorium will provide Environment Canterbury with the time it needs to develop, in consultation with the regional committee and the Hurunui-Waiau zone committee, as well as the wider community, a planning framework for the integrated management of the water resources of the Hurunui and Waiau catchments.

The Waiau catchment is the largest water source in the Hurunui-Waiau zone and has the potential to provide reliable water for harvest and storage.


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