Environment Canterbury cracking down on water-take consent breaches

Environment Canterbury Chief Executive Bill Bayfield says that the organisation is moving towards stricter enforcement measures for water take consent breaches.

Environment Canterbury is nearing the end of a five-year process to ensure that all water take consent holders have water meters installed. Over the past five years, the farming community and Environment Canterbury have moved towards an audited self-management approach where the groups can work together collaboratively to ensure that water meter compliance is achieved.

“Our focus now is on cracking down on low flow breaches during times of water restriction then dealing with breaches exceeding consented volumes,” says Mr Bayfield.

“We will begin publishing Abatement notices and Infringement notices on our website in response to the public’s desire for more transparency in terms of water measurement breaches.”

Water metering huge success

“The water meter programme has been hugely successful and we now have less than one per cent of water take consent holders without an action plan in place for installing a water meter. We’ve currently got non-compliant farmers on notice that they’ve got ten days to comply with the water meter installation rules.”

“I believe that by next season, the whole region will be compliant in terms of water meter installation. It was always our intention to reach this point within five years of developing the water management strategy and that’s what we’re on track to achieve.”

“Many farmers have gone above and beyond the national requirements for water measurement and have invested the $25,000 needed to install measuring devices that allow for daily data return. From now on, Environment Canterbury will stage an immediate intervention to fix the problems such as low flow breaches and will look at following through with stricter enforcement steps if necessary, including prosecution where required.”

Public interest in water measurement

Mr. Bayfield said water use in Canterbury was now a huge issue and people were showing how deeply they cared about fairly apportioned use of water.

“We get this. We could have been stricter on non-compliance in the past, but we’re well on the way to having a fully compliant region by October this year. Those farmers that are lagging behind know what they’ve got to do.”

Environment Canterbury has recently received a large amount of Local Government Official Information Management Act requests in regards to water measurement compliance.

“There is a large amount of public interest in water measurement,” says Mr Bayfield. “Official Information requests about these will be up on our website as from today.”

For further information on water measurement compliance click here.

For a video of the media session with Bill Bayfield click here.

Additional information

Under the Resource Management Act 1991, enforcement action can include the following actions:

  • Formal written warning – notice of an offence (often minor)
  • Abatement notice – formal notice to take action or cease an activity that may have an adverse environmental effect or breaches the Resource Management Act
  • Infringement notice – formal notice of an offence which includes payment of a fine.
  • Prosecution – for offences so serious that they warrant proceedings through the courts.

Depending on the severity of the offence, Environment Canterbury can move directly to the stricter enforcement methods such as prosecution.