Media release

ORC announces new approach for minimum flow plan changes

Thursday 24 May 2018

Otago Regional Council (ORC) has announced a new approach for delivering a number of water quantity plan changes to the regional water plan. So far ORC has been consulting with the community on these plan changes on an individual catchment basis. The new approach will see ORC bring this work together to notify a single plan change.

“The plan change will set minimum flows for particular catchments and assist in evaluating the replacement of deemed water permits within the wider Clutha/Mata-au catchment,” said Tanya Winter, Director of Policy Planning and Resource Management.  

“We saw that there was an opportunity to create some efficiency in bringing the plan changes together. Having these numbers in the regional water plan will contribute towards safeguarding the environment and provides greater certainty to the community and water users when they come to replace their deemed water permits,” she said.

The identified catchments are the Arrow, Upper Cardrona and Manuherikia. Minor technical changes on how residual flows are set and measured within the region will also form part of this plan change.

“Water is a treasured resource. Communities need to have certainty around its future management. Everyone needs to know that at the expiry of deemed permits environmental, social and cultural values will be upheld and that water users are totally clear how much water abstraction a river may be able to support. Business planning requires this certainty. This new approach reaffirms our commitment to setting flows in deemed permit prevalent catchments as a high priority,” said Cr Gretchen Robertson.

While early consultation on the individual plan changes involved setting water allocation limits, this work will now be scoped as part of a broader work programme to give effect to the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management. Work on other water quantity plan changes within the region will also continue in the background.

“We have received a lot of feedback from the community when we were consulting on these plan changes on an individual basis, this feedback is valuable and will still be considered as part of the plan change,” said Ms Winter.

Key stakeholder and community information sessions will be held in Dunedin and Cromwell in early to mid-June. At these sessions minimum flows for the Arrow, Upper Cardrona and Manuherikia catchments will be presented.

Information on the plan change will also be regularly updated on ORC’s new online platform ‘YourSay.’ On this website, people with an interest in this plan change can also sign-up for e-newsletter notifications.