The Ashburton water management zone implementation programme has been formally received by Environment Canterbury at its council meeting today (Thursday November 24).
Environment Canterbury Commissioners voted unanimously to “endorse the Ashburton Zone Implementation Programme as the basis for the design and realignment of work programmes, for drafting regional plan provisions and for preparation of a draft Long Term Plan”.
Ashburton District Council will receive the Ashburton Zone Implementation Programme at its council meeting scheduled for December 15.
David Caygill, the Environment Canterbury Commissioner with responsibility for water and a member of the Ashburton Zone Committee, said the ZIP recommends the first steps that need to be taken to achieve the targets in the Ashburton zone (the area between the Rakaia and Rangitata rivers) as set out in the Canterbury Water Management Strategy (CWMS) (3.28MB).
“The Ashburton Zone Committee worked collaboratively with stakeholders and community members to develop recommendations for water management solutions acceptable to a wide range of interests.”
It began working in September 2010 and held monthly committee meetings, field trips around the zone, as well as public workshops and community meetings to discuss water management priorities in the zone.
The committee’s draft ZIP was released in September 2011 and people were invited to three public meetings to receive more information and have the opportunity to provide feedback. People were also invited to provide more detailed written feedback on the draft ZIP and 43 responses were received.
The Committee reviewed all feedback – both formal and informal – before reaching agreement on the content of the final ZIP which was approved at a meeting on November 3.
“Ashburton District Council and Environment Canterbury have also been closely involved in preparing the programme of recommendations. Both councils have representatives on the zone committee and have provided support and technical advice throughout the development of the ZIP,” said David Caygill.
Matthew Hall, Chair of the Zone Committee, said there was considerable thoroughness in collecting the opinion of community members during the ZIP process.
“In putting detail on paper all reasonable endeavour has been made to capture a diverse range of opinions into the ZIP.
“There is consensus in the way information has been put together but this is far outweighed by the community taking a collaborative approach to the management of water.
“This has made the committee’s task so much easier.
“We on the committee want to thank the community for their understanding of the principles of the Canterbury Water Management Strategy and seeing the broad range of values that water represents to people.
“We also want to thank local runanga – especially the Arowhenua Marae – for their hospitality and advice on kaitiakitanga.”
The Ashburton Zone Implementation Programme reflects the priorities agreed to in the Canterbury Water Management Strategy. Under the CWMS there are four first-order priorities: the environment; customary use; community water; and stockwater. Second-order priorities are irrigation, renewable electricity, and recreation/amenity.
David Caygill said the structure of the ZIP was built on the CWMS priorities as they apply to the Ashburton zone. It was also prepared based on several overarching principles: collaboration; a whole of catchment approach; integration of all priority areas; and recognition of kaitiakitanga.
“For instance, the first section of recommendations in the ZIP cover the Hakatere/Ashburton River which is a key priority identified by community members and stakeholders in the Ashburton zone.
“The need to finalise a flow and allocation plan for the Hakatere/Ashburton River came through strongly in our engagement and feedback process.
“Another priority area was ecosystem health and biodiversity in the Ashburton zone. The content of this chapter reflects the desire of many people to build on the progress to date. The funding available through the Immediate Steps freshwater biodiversity programme is already being used to protect and restore important areas.
“The ZIP also makes recommendations related to other priority areas under the CWMS but more work is needed to develop and provide more detail on these areas. These include the actions needed to improve water quality as well as water use efficiency and security.”
The recommendations will be given effect through a sub-regional plan for the Hakatere/Ashburton River – to be developed by Environment Canterbury – which will sit within the Canterbury Natural Resources Regional Plan.