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Major milestone reached for water management in Upper Waitaki

Published: 2/05/2012 3:49 p.m. 

The Upper Waitaki Zone Committee finalised its water management Zone Implementation Programme (ZIP) at its monthly meeting in April.

The ZIP recommends actions, responsibilities and time-frames for activities to help achieve the principles, targets and goals set out in the Canterbury Water Management Strategy (CWMS).

Once accepted by councils, ZIPs form the basis for the design and realignment of council work and planning programmes for freshwater. The Upper Waitaki Zone Committee plans to present the ZIP to Environment Canterbury and the Waitaki and Mackenzie District Councils before the end of May.

Zone Committee Chair Barry Shepherd said the committee has worked hard to reach consensus decisions that reflect the needs of the community.

“The Upper Waitaki Zone Committee has worked collaboratively with stakeholders and community members to develop recommendations for water management that are acceptable to a wide range of interests.

“The underlying philosophy of the CWMS is that local communities should be making decisions on local water management and the ZIP is intended to reflect the needs of local people.

“As a committee we have a wide diversity of experience and this means when we came to putting detail on paper all reasonable endeavour was made to capture a diverse range of opinions in the ZIP,” he said.

The ZIP contains more than 50 recommendations to councils to achieve the vision of the Canterbury Water Management Strategy (CWMS); “to enable present and future generations the greatest social, economic, recreational and cultural benefits from our water resources within an environmentally sustainable framework.”

It includes recommendations on five key areas; Water nutrient and effluent management; Waitaki Catchment Water Allocation Regional Plan including environmental limits and development; Braided Rivers; Biodiversity; Prosperity.

The ZIP has been developed following numerous committee meetings and extensive stakeholder and community engagement to gather information about the region’s water resource.

The ZIP was released for community feedback in early March and community meetings were held with stakeholders and the community to get feedback. 

Barry Shepherd said how water is allocated and used is crucial to the future of the region and the committee was pleased with the level of interested shown by stakeholders and the community.

“We were happy with the response we received at the public meetings. Participants represented a wide range of interests ensuring we gathered a diverse range of feedback.

“We gathered some very constructive feedback and were given plenty to think about and this has been reflected in the final version of the ZIP.

“The importance of gathering extensive data in the zone was a common theme and until we have more zone specific information we believe a staged approach to land development and irrigation along with audited self management is appropriate to allow time to address the range of economic, environmental and social targets set by the CWMS.

“It is vital we get water management right as the decisions we make now will affect our quality of life and prosperity both now and for future generations,” he said

In November last year preliminary public meetings were also held across the zone to discuss water management priorities. The feedback from the meetings helped guide the recommendations in the committee’s draft ZIP for water management. More than 60 people attended these public meetings.

A final version of the Upper Waitaki ZIP is available.

The Upper Waitaki Zone Committee operates as a joint committee of Environment Canterbury and the Waitaki and Mackenzie District councils.

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