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‘Hands tied’ on water plan changes


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After months of public meetings discussing the finer details of the Ruamahanga Whaitua Committee’s freshwater proposals, the first draft has been released.

But business owners and farmers who voiced their concerns about the extent of the water allocation proposals will be left disappointed with the result.

Committee chairman Peter Gawith said the water allocation section had remained unchanged as the committee’s hands were tied by legislation.

“Principally, there was not a lot of room to change.”

Under the committee’s proposals there are about 70 affected Category A consent-holders in the upper Ruamahanga area near the Waiohine River, and five surrounding the Waipoua.

At times of low flows, these consent holders will have to cease their water take.

“To allocate water below minimum flow is called an over-allocation, that and the regulatory rules laid down by government, it can’t be done,” Mr Gawith said.

“Things will need to change in order to sustain the Category A consent holders”.

The response to the draft would most likely be a continued and much-needed discussion about water use in Wairarapa, he said.

“We are not talking about no water or lack of water, it’s about how we manage water in the future.

“I think the discussion around the use of water, and how we will use water during dry periods, is an ongoing discussion and needs to be had by the community.”

Mr Gawith said there had not been a connection to the “water problem” in the region’s towns.

A relationship between Masterton District Council and the Friends of Henley Lake and of the Lake of Remembrance needed to be established to manage the lake’s water take consents.

He also added that urban takes were to be discussed between the regional council and the district councils.

The draft lays out roughly 100 recommendations ranging from discharges to land management, river and lake management, as well as river flows.

The committee has not regulated contaminants and was rather asking for “good management” from farmers.

He said the Greater Wellington Regional Council was prepared to investigate aquifer recharge.

The committee presented the draft to the regional council last week, and will present to the combined Wairarapa district councils today.

The committee will present its final draft to council in August, with the plan to come into effect early next year.

Submissions are open until July 11.

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