The Lower Waitaki - South Coastal Canterbury Zone Implementation Programme (ZIP) has been formally received by Environment Canterbury at its council meeting today (29 March).
Environment Canterbury Commissioners endorsed the Lower Waitaki - South Coastal Canterbury Zone Implementation Programme as the basis for the design and realignment of work programmes for drafting regional plan provisions. Both the Waitaki and Waimate district councils have already received and accepted the Zone Implementation Programme.
"The Lower Waitaki - South Coastal Canterbury Zone Implementation Programme represents the consensus reached by committee members on the local actions needed to improve water management in the zone," said Environment Canterbury Commissioner Peter Skelton, also a member of the committee.
"This consensus also took into account the wide range of views from local people and organisations, canvassed by the zone committee during the development of the Zone Implementation Programme.
"The Zone Implementation Programme sits within the Canterbury Water Management Strategy, which is putting in place a collaborative system to manage water based around a shared vision of gaining the greatest benefits from water within a sustainable framework."
Zone Committee Chair Robin Murphy said the committee had taken a 'whole of waterways' approach to integrate water management from the mountains to the sea (Ki Uta Ki Tai).
"This includes the Maori principle of Kaitiakitanga which is reflected in the recommendations to improve water quality and quantity, as well as provide more customary use, and involve runanga in water management.
"Within the ZIP there are six priority topics, part of our integrated approach to water management.
"Both the Lower Waitaki River and the Hakataramea catchment are priority areas in the ZIP.
"For the Lower Waitaki River the recommendations start with the development of an iwi management plan for the catchment, they also include the river mouth, in-stream values and braided river character, as well as reliability of water, electricity supply, water quality issues, and recreational amenity.
"For the Hakatamea the local community is keen to see a catchment management plan and improved water flow and reliability.
"Restoration of Wainono Lagoon is another priority area, which has also received a significant funding boost from the recent Government Fresh Start for Freshwater initiative.
"Improving the biodiversity of coastal lagoons, lowland streams, springs, river mouths and wetlands is another priority area," said Robin Murphy.
"The ZIP also includes priority recommendations around improving drinking water quality and finding additional sources of drinking water for communities.
"The sixth priority area is water and nutrient management. We are keen to encourage local farmers to get involved in catchment groups looking at setting nutrient limits.
"The ZIP also recommends environmental flows be set for all rivers in the zone, as well asmore scientific work to understand groundwater, and assessment of reliable water supply options in the northern part of the zone," said Robin Murphy.
The Lower Waitaki - South Coastal Canterbury Zone Implementation Programme is the fifth to be completed under the Canterbury Water Management Strategy.
Robin Murphy said developing the ZIP was a very thorough process.
"All reasonable endeavour was made to capture a diverse range of opinions.
"There is consensus in the way information has been put together but even more significant is the way the community has taken a collaborative approach to the management of water.
"This has included working collaboratively with stakeholders and community members to develop recommendations for water management solutions acceptable to a wide range of people."
During the engagement and feedback process on the ZIP, the committee identified a number of additional work streams and gaps in knowledge that will be addressed in its 2012 work programme including gravel extraction, the management of stockwater races, stormwater management, drainage management, and flood management.
Copies of the final ZIP can be downloaded at www.ecan.govt/canterburywater .
The Lower Waitaki - South Coastal Canterbury Zone Committee's next public meeting is on 19 April.