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Interim Limit Options for Heretaunga Groundwater

Interim Limit Options for Heretaunga Groundwater

The possibility of setting limits on new application for water take resource consents from the Heretaunga Aquifer are to be further explored by Hawke’s Bay Regional Council. Regional Councillors have also asked staff to cost a programme for setting a deep bore to gather information on the deeper part of the aquifer.
HBRC Council meeting 26 August Agenda Item 9

Councillors voted at the Wednesday Regional Council meeting to instruct staff to mark all applications for new water consents or variations of water consents on the Heretaunga Plains as ‘Class B’ water. This is subject to legal advice supporting this approach.

This would be a temporary category until such time as the TANK planning process recommends the volume of extra water that is available and any hierarchy of priorities for water use. TANK is the collective term for the Tutaekuri, Ahuriri, Ngaruroro and Karamū surface water and groundwater catchments on the Heretaunga Plains, being examined as part of the planning process.

Some Councillors are concerned that there is an impression in the community that the aquifer is not being managed sustainably. They would like to develop an understanding of what the theoretical limits for groundwater pumping could be. HBRC staff have confirmed that aquifer levels have remained largely unchanged over the last 150 years, although, in the unconfined areas of the aquifer, groundwater pumping affects both groundwater levels and stream flows in a dry summer.

Staff have reported to Councillors that any ‘limit’ or moratorium on water takes could not be adopted without being subject to the correct processes under the Resource Management Act, which would include consultation with a wide range of organisations and the community. If such an approach was to be used, it would have to apply to all new water takes, no matter what use the water was intended for.

Under the proposed ‘Class B’ approach, if insufficient water is found to be available after further investigation through TANK, consent holders takes would cease under a ‘last on, first off’ approach. Some Councillors expressed concern that this could limit development and economic expansion particularly in the pip fruit industry.

Council also voted to commence discussions with central Government about introducing legislation to enable royalties to be charged for water exported and sold offshore for bottling.

In addition, staff have been requested to report on the potential of installing additional deep bores to gather information to help establish the full extent and capacity of the aquifer and its sub-aquifers, and their relationships to surface water. Potential costs of - and impacts on - the already-approved science investigation programmes are to be provided. Staff noted that a computer model is already being constructed by HBRC hydrology staff to evaluate the potential for sea water intrusion in coastal areas of the aquifer.


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