ORC’s Proposed Changes to Water Management in the Arrow Catchment and Wakatipu Basin aquifers

24 Jan 18

The Otago Regional Council is preparing to make changes to Otago’s Regional Water Plan regarding the Arrow Catchment and Wakatipu Basin aquifers, which will affect current and new permit holders relying on these water sources.

The National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management now requires regional councils to set minimum flows and allocation limits for river catchments, and restriction levels and allocation limits for aquifers. Through initial consultation with community members and the advice of experts, the Otago Regional Council has worked up several options for further consultation prior to formal notification of a plan change.The options ORC is consulting on can be reviewed here, they concern;

–   Primary minimum flow and allocation block,
–   Supplementary minimum flow and allocation block, for the Arrow Catchment.
–   The distinction between surface water and groundwater in the Wakatipu Basin aquifers.
–   Maximum allocation limits for the aquifers.

It is important for water users to consider how these restrictions may affect them. The values at which minimum flow and allocation limits are set, compared to the natural flow of the river and aquifers at any given time, will dictate how much water is available for use within the community each day. Natural flow is seasonal, and in dryer months or years, such as the 2015-2016 period and currently, natural flow may at times fall close to or below set minimum flow. For example, the monitoring and compliance point for minimum flows in the Arrow River is proposed to be at Cornwall Street, and the minimum flow options being consulted on are 800, 900 or 1000l/s. The primary allocation limit options being consulted on, which is the first block of water that can be taken when the river is above the minimum flows, are 700l/s or 720l/s. This compares with the current allocation on paper which according to ORC is in order of 2,030 l/s, however over the last 5 years ORC state that “on average the largest amount that has been taken is 596 l/s”. 1Arrow Catchment and Wakatipu Basin Aquifers Background Report for Options Consultation, December 2017, Page 8

The restrictions proposed in the Arrow Catchment and Wakatipu Basin will impact water resources available for current and further development, irrigation, residential use, ecological values and recreational activities. Those affected by or interested in the proposed changes can take this opportunity to have a say on which options are best for the community.

While the plan change will likely have legal effect once it is publicly notified for submissions, it will not directly affect those who currently have resource consents or deemed permits until such time as those consents and permits either expire, or the ORC undertakes a review of all the consents and permit in the catchment.

Want to find out more?

Final public feedback on the Council’s proposed management options is being accepted until this Friday 26th January 2018. If you’re interested in how these changes may affect you, and would like further advice or assistance making submissions, please contact our specialist local team.

PDF Version: ORC’s proposed changes to water management in the Arrow Catchment and Wakatipu Basin aquifers

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1. Arrow Catchment and Wakatipu Basin Aquifers Background Report for Options Consultation, December 2017, Page 8