Media release

ORC water management plan changes progressing

Wednesday 12 August 2015

The Otago Regional Council (ORC) approved its decisions on submissions on Plan Change 3C (minimum flow) for the Waiwera catchment in South Otago at last week’s council meeting in Dunedin.

ORC director policy, planning, and resource management Fraser McRae said the plan change means that a minimum flow will soon apply to consented takes in the area.

“The minimum flow is designed to maintain the natural character and ecological values of the river, while providing certainty for future irrigation takes,” Mr McRae said.

Minimum flows restrict when and how much water can be taken from freshwater sources during low-flow conditions and also protect rivers’ aquatic ecosystems and natural character.

They are also a vital mechanism for ensuring enough water remains in a waterway to maintain values and to sustain multiple uses, including recreation, and stock and domestic water.

“Getting communities and other groups interested in waterways to identify specific values helps us make a balanced conclusion in terms of what a minimum flow should be for a waterway,” Mr McRae said.

The Waiwera minimum flow was raised to accommodate several of the submissions received.

“The minimum flow of 300 litres per second (l/s) is higher than that notified (260l/s), and has little impact on the security of supply for the 150 l/s of current consent. However, it increases certainty for sustaining instream values and the natural character of the Waiwera catchment.”

ORC has also notified Plan Change 5A (Lindis integrated water management). This plan change sets a management regime (allocation limits and minimum flow) for the Lindis River catchment. It comes after six community consultation workshops held in Tarras from February 2009 to April 2015.

“It is proposed that the minimum flow from 1 October to 31 May each year is set at 750 l/s for the Lindis”, Mr McRae said.

Submissions on Plan Change 5A close on Friday 4 September. Submissions will be heard in November, and a decision released early next year.

Council has publicly notified final approval of Plan Change 4C (Groundwater management Cromwell Terrace Aquifer), and Plan Change 4B which also covers groundwater allocation.

Both these plan changes will be fully operational from the start of September, Mr McRae said.

For more information

Fraser McRae
Director policy, planning, and resource management
Phone 03 474 0827 or 0274 900 903