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The Pareora Catchment Environmental Flow and Water Allocation Regional Plan will become operative from July 21, 2012, following a resolution by the Environment Canterbury Council of Commissioners at the meeting on June 28.
“The Plan took more than two years to develop and involved Environment Canterbury’s planners working with the local community on how to ensure the future viability of the Pareora River,” said Environment Canterbury commissioner Peter Skelton.
The review of the river’s flow and its resource allocation was initiated by Environment Canterbury in 2007 because it was widely recognised the high level of allocation was resulting in the ecological values being compromised and affecting the level of reliability experienced by abstractors.
“The approach taken for the Pareora was a good example of how collaboration and consensus can achieve long-term, sustainable solutions without the need for expensive and adversarial litigation, and was similar to the approach now championed by the Canterbury Water Management Strategy.”
The process began in late 2007 when Environment Canterbury set up a community advisory group following a public meeting.
This group included representatives from Te Rūnanga o Arowhenua, Forest and Bird, Fish and Game, Timaru and Waimate District Councils, local residents from throughout the catchment, irrigators and recreationalists.
A steering group of 12 members was nominated by the Community Advisory Group and worked on water management options with Environment Canterbury. This was an intensive and collaborative process with everyone contributing to discussions and recommendations and with communication back to the people they represented.
Eventually a consensus position was reached which involved concessions from everyone involved. This involved capping the amount of run of river abstraction at its existing level, requiring an ongoing increase in minimum flows, while at the same time encouraging irrigators to develop on-farm water storage to address the effects of a higher minimum flow on their reliability of supply.
“Timaru District Council also made a significant contribution to the success of the Plan when it agreed to reduce the amount of water taken for Timaru City supplies in key months of the year.”
The Pareora River catchment is the supply for half of Timaru District’s domestic and industrial water supplies, historically a renowned trout fishery, is the source of water for farmers as well as being of significant value to tangata whenua.
“Throughout the process there was understanding that farmers need to sustain their livelihoods but there was also acknowledgement of the need to redress the environmental balance, biodiversity and cultural values,” said Commissioner Skelton.
For more information visit Regional Plans under development.