In an article on the Regional Council the other day I buried a reference that deserves much more attention.

I noted that Morry Black, a hugely knowledgeable expert on water issues, has written an excellent “primer” on water allocation here in Hawke’s Bay. It was officially prepared for the Hastings Council’s Maori Advisory Committee, of which Morry is a member. You can download the paper here.

The paper reviews the recent history of water allocation in the region, the effort to establish scientifically-grounded minimum flows (the rates of water flow needed to protect the ecological health of a river) for HB rivers, the interplay between surface water takes and replenishment of the Heretaunga Plains aquifer, and the policies that should be adopted to future-proof our water allocation regime.

Among Morry’s observations:

  • the Regional Council has already allowed more takes from the aquifer than the average annual rate of recharge;
  • large volumes of stock water are not counted within allocable volumes;
  • between 1995 and 2003, there was an increase of 65% in hectares irrigated in Hawke’s Bay;
  • average ground water levels have dropped 2.5 metres since 1975;
  • 62% of monitored wells throughout Hawke’s Bay are trending downwards.

Morry’s conclusion: “What is crucial to sustainable management of the water resource is first establishing what our rivers require to maintain ecosystem function and integrity, protection and enhancement of tikanga Maori values, and recharge of our major aquifers.”

This paper is a great service. Many thanks Morry.

Tom Belford

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2 Comments

  1. Mr Carter[The Minister of Agriculture] said in a speech to the Irrigation New Zealand conference in Christchurch :

    "I would have thought what happened recently with Environment Canterbury would be a signal to all regional councils to work a bit more constructively with their farmer stakeholders."

    It now appears ECan was not sacked because they were dysfunctional but because they were not pushing the Key Government’s pro-irrigation agenda.

    The actions of a one term government one would hope and pray.

  2. I would like to thank Morry Black for his dedication to the water issues in HB and his most helpfull paper to HDC on the state of play identified in Toms posting above.

    This was invaluble in preparing submission on the Tuki degradation issues to HBRC and CHBDC Draft Annual Plans just closed.

    I also thank HBRC scientists and other staff for their information input for a submission on Tutira lake water quality deteriation despite substantial efforts to deter runoffs over past 20 years.

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