ORC backs water metering on farms

Friday, 19 November 2010

The Otago Regional Council (ORC) is to embark on a strategy to ensure all water takes in Otago are metered in accord with new government regulations.  ORC will also help people understand how the new regulations, which govern the measurement and reporting of water takes, will affect them.

The Resource Management (Measurement and Reporting of Water Takes) Regulations 2010 recently came into force and require all water takes at or above 5 litres/sec to be metered.

The new regulations are part of a wider Government programme to improve freshwater management.

ORC director of resource management Selva Selvarajah said the introduction of the regulations is timely for water users.

“It would take the council at least another decade to require all consented takes, including mining privileges (deemed permits), to require water meters through renewals of water permits,” Dr Selvarajah said.

He said the regulations would mainly affect holders of deemed permits and consent holders without water meter requirements in the Otago region.

“This is a good opportunity for mining privilege holders to install meters and start collecting records of water use, as these records are  required as part of the process to renew old water permits and mining privileges,” Dr Selvarajah said.

Most of the mining privilege water is taken through gravity means and will require channel flow meters.  These instruments require correct siting and installation.  Council staff will facilitate site demonstrations, including monitoring for channel flow takes.

Dr Selvarajah said most water permits ORC has issued since early 2000 require continuous measurement through water meters with dataloggers or telemetry systems.

“The benefits of having such equipment substantially outweighs the disadvantages, such as the additional cost of installation.”

With dataloggers or telemetry, water users need not worry about manual recording or non-compliance with regular manual recording, Dr Selvarajah said.

All records are stored or transmitted continuously and there is no onus on the water user to regularly record any data manually.
Telemetry and dataloggers were key tools to ensure water was managed efficiently and effectively in fully or over-allocated catchments, during low-surface water flow or low aquifer level conditions, or when groundwater restriction levels were reached, Dr Selvarajah said.

In these conditions they play a major role to help water rostering, he said.

ORC regulatory committee chairman Cr Bryan Scott said in addition to the water metering rules, the Otago Water Plan and a suite of other council initiatives, such as its rural water quality strategy, would go a long way towards ensuring good water management in the region.

The new regulations require all water takes of more than 20 litres a second to be metered within two years (2012), of more than 10 litres a second within four years (2014) and of more than 5 litres a second to be metered within six years (2016).

ORC’s regulatory committee has agreed to hold a series of advisory meetings for water users affected by the new regulations, at selected sites.

The committee also approved staff recommendations to:

- Assess which catchments and aquifers in the region require telemetry to comply with the new regulations

- Require either dataloggers or telemetry on all new and existing permits

- Develop a procedure for water meter location deviation

- Co-ordinate advice on channel flow measurement.

Cr Scott said the government’s aim of having more comprehensive and accurate water measurement was in line with the council’s quest for more sustainable management of freshwater resources.

The onus was on water users to ensure they installed appropriate measuring devices. ORC was prepared to do what it could to help water users make a smooth-as-possible transition to the new regime, he said.

ORC would be pragmatic about helping farmers find practical solutions to issues where new water meters had to be installed in geographically difficult areas, Cr Scott said.

For more information contact
Selva Selvarajah
Director of resource management
Ph 03 474 0827 or 0274 329 810

Cr Bryan Scott
Chairman regulatory committee
Ph 027 204 8872

Otago Regional Council

70 Stafford Street
Private Bag 1954
Dunedin 9054

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