The consultation process for the Plan has been extensive, with the a number of discrete consultative processes being brought together by the Hurunui-Waiau Zone Committee to create a holistic and integrated vision for water management in the Hurunui-Waiau Zone.
Consultation initially began on the surface water flow and allocation regime for the Hurunui River in 2004. A Community Advisory Group was formed comprising members with agricultural, conservation, recreation and development interests. This group met for just over 12 months, before a wider consultation process was carried out and before Variation 8 to the proposed Natural Resources Regional Plan was notified in 2007. The Variation sought to include minimum flows and allocation block sizes to manage surface water flows in the Hurunui River.
In 2007 a water conservation order for the Hurunui River was applied for by the New Zealand and North Canterbury Fish and Game Councils and the New Zealand Recreational Canoeing Association. This dealt with similar issues to Variation 8 and as such the Variation was put on hold pending the outcome of the Water Conservation Order.
In 2008, during a dry summer the Marble Point flow recorder on the Waiau River broke down. For a period of two weeks in February, the Canterbury Regional Council website continued to register a flow in excess of 30 cumecs, while anecdotal evidence suggests that the river had continued to fall. Abstractors were not aware that the river was falling and continued to take water, resulting in very low river levels around Waiau Township and the SH1 bridge. This prompted a number of phone calls to Canterbury Regional Council and several public meetings were held.
As a result of the public meetings it was agreed that there was limited information on the Waiau River and while it was accepted that the management regime may need to change, it was agreed that further information would need to be collected before this could proceed. Technical information was gathered and in June 2009 a public meeting was held to start the consultation process on the surface water flow and allocation regime for the Waiau River. A community advisory group was formed. This group met for 18 months over 2009 and 2010 and discussed the appropriate surface water management regime for the Waiau Catchment. It was identified through this process that groundwater should be included in the water allocation regime because of the inherent interrelationship between surface and groundwater.
The Environment Canterbury (Temporary Commissioners and Improved Water Management) Act 2010 (the ECan Act) received royal ascent in April 2010. The Act enabled the Council to develop moratoria to prevent application for resource consent for a specific reason for a specified time period. On 2 August 2010, Canterbury Regional Council imposed a moratorium in Hurunui as there were several planning processes occurring around water in the Hurunui catchment, all of which raised similar issues and involved many of the same parties. On 6 December, Canterbury Regional Council then imposed a moratorium in Waiau, the river being strategically important for a range of uses including for hydro electricity generation, irrigation and storage. By placing resource consent processes on hold, the Council sought a collaborative approach be undertaken through the Hurunui-Waiau Zone Committee to bring stakeholders and organisations together to formulate and agree on a Zone Implementation Programme before the consenting process resumed. Both moratoria ceased on 1 October 2011.
The need to manage water quality effectively in the region led in recent years lead to the establishment of a ‘Land Use and Water Quality Project’ for the Canterbury region. The project includes a science aspect which aims to assess the effects of land use changes on the region’s groundwater, streams, rivers and their associated ecosystems. The project includes activities at three levels: with land users working on-farm; people living and working within the catchment; and with people working at a regional level to look at the links between economic, social and environmental factors. The project is designed to ultimately result in a more effective policy framework for establishing limits for nitrate and other contaminants and management/implementation strategies for improving water quality. The project involves Canterbury Regional Council working with the primary sector, and other stakeholders in a collaborative style to ensure solutions are workable and sensible while being science informed.
In 2010, the project commenced with a case study in the upper Hurunui catchment, with the lessons learnt now being applied to other areas in the region. The outcome of the project was a regional preferred approach for managing the impact of land use change on water quality, along with specific information about the preferred management approach and nutrient limits considered appropriate by project participants for the upper Hurunui River. The information about the preferred management approach and nutrient limits was then provided to the Hurunui-Waiau Zone Committee, who subsequently provided recommendations to Canterbury Regional Council in their Zone Implementation Programme in July 2011, seeking that a regulatory backstop be incorporated into the Hurunui-Waiau Plan to support a range of other non-statutory actions by Canterbury Regional Council, Industry and the Hurunui-Waiau community to improve management of the loss of nutrients from land and into water.
Between 2004 and 2010 the Canterbury Water Management Strategy was developed. A key partnership between Environment Canterbury, Canterbury’s district councils and Ngāi Tahu as well as key environmental and industry stakeholders. The Strategy sets out a way forward towards improving management and use of Canterbury’s water resources.
Zone Committees have the role of co-ordinating the development and review of Implementation Programmes that give effect to the Canterbury Water Management Strategy.
Since July 2010, the Hurunui-Waiau Zone Committee has been working collaboratively and undertaken extensive consultation with runanga, local communities, interested parties, industry groups, government and non-government organisations, scientists and advisory groups to develop their recommendations on the management of water in the Hurunui-Waiau Zone. The Programme was then prepared after receiving and considering over 125 submissions on the Draft, together with feedback from meetings and communities of interest, including public meetings at Amberley, Omihi, Cheviot, Culverden, Hawarden, Hamner Springs and Christchurch in total involving more than 300 people.
The Zone Implementation Programme July 2011 recognises that the future social and economic prosperity of the Zone was largely dependent on utilisation of its water resources, for agricultural and horticultural development through the expansion of irrigation, and tourism activities. The Zone Implementation Programme contained a suite of water-management recommendations to Canterbury Regional Council, Hurunui District Council, developers and other parties. This includes recommendations as to how the Hurunui Waiau River Plan should contribute to an integrated solution for the development and management of freshwater resources in the Hurunui-Waiau Zone.
View a Summary of the public, community and interest group meetings (pdf 22 kB).
(03) 353 9007
0800 324 636 (EC INFO)
More contact details »