The Hurunui-Waiau Zone Committee meeting schedule.
A delegation from Hurunui farmers to the Hurunui Waiau Zone Committee on Monday (August 18, 2014) raised serious concerns about the effect of the Hurunui Waiau River Regional Plan on the future of dry land farming. A letter from 40 farmers in the Cheviot area and the presence of several dry land farmers at the committee meeting in Amberley reinforced the concerns that were spoken to by James Hoban and Ben Ensor. Similar concerns have been expressed by Hawarden dry land farmers at earlier meetings.
The Hurunui Waiau River Regional Plan includes a load limit for nitrates and phosphates in the Hurunui River that has been set to ensure water quality in the river remains at an acceptable level for environmental, cultural and recreational uses. The limit for phosphate has been exceeded and any farmer wishing to intensify by 10% or more needs to get a land use consent before doing so. The 10% relates to increases in nitrate and phosphate discharges below the root zone as measured using Overseer.
“What has become clear to all members of the zone committee,” said chair David Eder, “is that the 10% limit has a major impact on dry land farmers whose farming systems are low nutrient emitters and who rely on being able to continue to progressively increase production to remain profitable. Dry land increases will be relatively small in comparison to the nutrient discharges from intensive farming such as dairying.
“As the rules currently stand it will be harder for dry land farmers to increase production in the Hurunui and Waiau catchments than it is in red zone like the Waipara,” continued Mr Eder. ”This issue has become more apparent to all zone committee members as farmers have started using Overseer modelling and developing farm plans either as individuals or while participating in catchment group meetings.
“The zone committee will discuss the concerns raised by farmers on Monday at our next meeting in Waikari on Monday 22 September. Our meeting that day will be dedicated to this topic and considering how it can be most effectively addressed. It is important that the farming community attends that meeting and stays engaged in assisting the committee to develop a solution," David Eder continued.
“The zone committee needs community input from both dry land and dairy farmers to sort out how more equitable nutrient allocations can be made in the Hurunui Waiau zone. This is likely to result in the zone committee making recommendations to the regional council on changes to the Hurunui Waiau Regional Plan that are more equitable to dry land farmers while still delivering the required environmental and cultural targets.
“The zone committee members have been committed to delivering solutions for water management in the zone since 2010. The same commitment will go into sorting out this issue,” concluded Mr Eder.
12 June 2014: Farmer survey discussion at Hurunui-Waiau Zone Committee
17 February 2014: Hurunui-Waiau Zone Committee Meeting
16 December 2013: Hurunui-Waiau appoints new community member
12 July 2013: Hurunui-Waiau Zone Committee Meeting
The Hurunui-Waiau Zone Committee was the first of the 10 zone committees established in Canterbury to work with local communities to develop water management solutions that deliver the goals of the Canterbury Water Management Strategy (CWMS).
The initial focus of the committee was to develop a Zone Implementation Programme (ZIP) for water management. This was completed in August 2011, following extensive community and stakeholder engagement.
The 66 recommendations in the ZIP represent the community’s broad consensus on the best solutions for managing water in the zone, and were provided to the regional and district councils for implementation, which included the preparation of the proposed Hurunui and Waiau River Regional Plan (HWRRP).
In April 2013 Environment Canterbury formally accepted the recommendations from a hearing panel on the proposed HWRRP and proposed Plan Change 3 to the Natural Resources Regional Plan at a Council meeting .
The Plan, which became operative in late 2013, sets a load limit for nitrogen and phosphorus in the Hurunui River catchment which aligns with key recommendations from the zone committee.
It requires all farmers to sign up to a collective audited self-management scheme, and prepare a farm environment plan from 2017, which also aligns with the committee’s recommendations for best practice farming programmes.
The committee is now faced with the challenge implementing its ZIP and the HWRRP to achieve the nitrogen and phosphorus load limits for Hurunui River while also enabling further irrigation development.
The focus for the committee is now on working with farmers on developing Farm Environmental Plans, using Overseer, and forming audited self-management (ASM) collectives.
The committee is particularly focussing on working with the community to promote on the ground actions to reduce nutrient loss and allow more room for development.
The Hurunui Water Project’s Waitohi River storage proposal was granted consent in early August 2013.
For a perspective piece from the zone committee chair click the link below.
David Eder opinion piece (198 kB)
Canterbury Water Management Strategy (pdf 3.28 MB)
Hurunui-Waiau ZIP (pdf 1.15 MB)
Hurunui–Waiau Water Management Zone - Update of regulation requirements for water takes of 20 l/s or more (May 2013) (pdf 230 kB)
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