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.