Following on from public meetings in Cromwell where draft minimum flows were presented to the community, Otago Regional Council (ORC) has committed to hold further public meetings prior to notifying the plan change. The public sessions held on 11 June introduced a plan change to set flow limits for catchments where there are high numbers of expiring deemed water permits.
An audience of around 100 people across the two sessions were presented with the draft minimum flows along with background details which have informed these figures for the Arrow, Upper Cardrona and Manuherikia catchments. In addition, minor technical changes on how residual flows are set and measured within the region were presented for inclusion in the plan change.
Last week a Council resolution was reached confirming that the outstanding technical reports for the Upper Cardrona and Manuherikia catchments would be made available to the public as they were completed and prior to the notification date of 31 August 2018. These reports would be published on ORC’s ‘YourSay’ website.
“We have been working within these catchments and communities over recent years to gather the information we need to inform this plan change. It’s been really great to have such strong involvement of communities and we certainly hope this will continue,” said ORC Deputy Chair Gretchen Robertson.
In addition, ORC has committed to holding further public sessions on minimum flows prior to notification and will arrange site visits to all three catchments to further discuss catchment behaviour and technical details of the draft minimum flows.
“Deemed permits expire in October 2021, we’re acutely aware that’s now right on the horizon. This plan change is needed to safeguard instream values and provide surety in business planning. Only when minimum flows are in place will those applying to replace permits with consents, or reconsenting, know what they are dealing with in terms of water availability. A lot of mental angst comes from uncertainty, as such, we need to get on with setting bottom lines and move forward together,” said Cr Robertson.
Themed responses to questions received at the minimum flow sessions would also be made available on the ‘YourSay’ website next week.
ORC’s ‘YourSay’ website: https://yoursay.orc.govt.nz/minimumflows
Further information on draft minimum flows
A minimum flow at Cornwall Street is proposed at 800 litres per second. This level is similar to the lowest flows experienced in 2015/16. A minimum flow at this level provides for habitat retention for trout, as well as preventing the growth of nuisance algae. These were both important values identified by the community. In addition, a supplementary minimum flow of 1050 litres per second is proposed. All technical reports which inform the minimum flow limits have been completed for the Arrow catchment.
Upper Cardrona catchment
Dual minimum flows at Mt Barker are proposed for the Upper Cardrona catchment. A summer minimum flow of 700 litres per second, from 16 November to 15 May; and a winter minimum flow of 2000 litres per second, from 16 May to 15 November. This dual approach recognises the need to maintain flow variability across seasons, an important aspect of the natural character of this river. The summer minimum flow will safeguard the visual appeal and natural characteristics of the river above Mt Barker and will provide for 70 per cent trout habitat retention in this reach. The winter minimum flow enables flow continuity across the entire main stem of the Cardrona outside of the peak irrigation season in summer. A supplementary minimum flow of 3100 litres per second is proposed. Social, economic and cultural reports are yet to be completed for the Upper Cardrona catchment.
A range of minimum flow limits, have been provided for three flow sites within the Manuherikia catchment:
• 400 to 600 litres per second at Dunstan Creek
• 1500 to 1750 litres per second at Ophir
• 1250 to 1600 litres per second at Campground
These numbers have been informed by hydrology and ecology work that has been completed, with an increase in trout habitat at the sites being identified for these flows. Irrigation and water surety have been identified as key values from the community. Social, economic and cultural reports are yet to be completed for the Manuherikia catchment. As these reports are finalised the minimum flow limit will be narrowed down for each flow site to provide a final figure for notification.
For more information contact:
Director Policy Planning and Resource Management
Ph 0800 474 082 or 021 379 662
Ph 0800 474082 or 027 627 5894