Lots happening on the Tukituki front.
Irrigation Consents & Plan Change
A stakeholders group has been set up to advise the Regional Council on the plan change it is developing for management of Tukituki water take consents and water quality. I’m serving on it and would welcome hearing your views.
Currently there are 284 water take consents for irrigation on the Tuki. HBRC admits these consents are resulting in low flows in the river detrimental to the river’s aquatic life and recreational value. In short, the water has been over-allocated. And under terms of the new National Policy Statement on Freshwater Management, the minimum flows that must be maintained to protect the river will need to be raised.
The process is moving quickly … HBRC is aiming to have a plan change ready to officially notify for public comment by July. Unfortunately, unless you’re an irrigator, you won’t be hearing much about this until public meetings scheduled very late in the process … in June. Effectively, concerned members of the public will be left with no choice but to file submissions after the plan is notified.
CHB Sewage Discharge
CHB has finally filed a resource consent application aimed at changing the groundrules under which it is allowed to discharge untreated wastewater into the Tukituki. Despite all the hype about a new scheme to discharge the waste onto land, at least one-half of CHB effluent will continue to be dumped into the river … and still untreated.
CHB and HBRC argue that these discharges will occur at times of high flows in the river, and consequently will not adversely affect the water quality of the river.
However, the proposed scheme is less stringent in terms of water quality standards than the terms CHB must meet by 2014 under the current consent. Those terms were set by the Environment Court several years ago, only after environmentalists challenged CHB and the Regional Council.
My guess is we’re in for a replay — environmentalists will submit against the new application. But this train is running even faster — submissions must be lodged by 29 February.