Politics muddying water issues

Politics are muddying water issues and damaging relationships key to community outcomes, Environment Canterbury chairman Steve Lowndes said today.

"We’re very disappointed to hear, second hand today, that Christchurch City Councillors appear to have lost confidence in ECan.”

"We would expect such concerns to be raised directly, especially given the vital importance of continuing to work together at a staff and councillor level for the benefit of the people of Christchurch and the wider region."

“The Christchurch City Councillors are very aware of the plan in place to protect the aquifer and the priority given to drinking water, and the rules that ECan must follow under the Resource Management Act. I invite the City Councillors to read and fully consider the independent commissioner’s decision in regard to Cloud Ocean.

“It is also disappointing that city councillors have failed to engage before taking to social media and making public statements that do not accurately reflect the issues. Cr Vicki Buck, in particular, has stated that the City Council has been completely ignored, which is blatantly untrue.”

“Statements that are not based on fact are irresponsible and unnecessarily undermine public confidence in the water supply.”

“I can confirm that Environment Canterbury has listened to the Christchurch City Council’s concerns, taken account of their expert’s report and has met with Council staff. As a result, both councils agreed on the extent of the effects of the Cloud Ocean proposal.”

“The expert report concluded that any effects of the supply bores were within Environment Canterbury’s interference thresholds under the Land and Water Regional Plan. To quote the report: “This indicates that there will be sufficient water to accommodate pumping from all existing bores at their consented peak rates and volumes” – which means that the effects of drawing water from the deeper bore will not adversely affect the city’s bores.”

“A meeting was held between Environment Canterbury, the Christchurch City Council and Cloud Ocean’s consultants reached agreement on the modelling, and that pumping from the deeper bore was within the thresholds considered acceptable under the Land and Water Regional Plan.”

“Minutes taken during the meeting were subsequently reviewed and approved by all parties present, including Christchurch City Council staff. The minutes state “the common conclusion is the calculated well interference is within the range permitted by the Land and Water Regional Plan.”

“We all recognise that water is one of our most precious resources and want to protect it for future generations. This is why community drinking water supply is recognised as a top priority in the Canterbury Land and Water Regional Plan. It is also why the Christchurch City Council as a community drinking water supplier has the unique status within this plan as the only entity that can apply for additional water supply."

“Currently, the Christchurch City Council is using only about 75% of its current allocated supply, and we are confident our Plan ensures the future drinking water supply for Christchurch”.

Future needs would again be considered in detail through the Christchurch-West Melton Zone committee sub-regional planning process, currently scheduled for 2022, Cr Lowndes said.