This page has further information to the application by the New Zealand and the North Canterbury Fish and Game Councils and the New Zealand Recreational Canoeing Association for a water conservation order in respect of the Hurunui River.
Letter to the Minister for the Environment
19 March 2008
The Honourable Nanaia Mahuta Associate Minister for the Environment Parliament Buildings WELLINGTON
New Zealand and North Canterbury Fish & Game Councils and New Zealand Recreational Canoeing Association - Application for Water Conservation Order on the Hurunui River
- We refer to your letter dated 6 March 2008 requesting further information from the applicants under section 201(3) of the Resource Management Act 1991. You have sought clarification of the term "hydraulically connected groundwater" and confirmation of whether the applicants intend the definitions and management approach provided for under Policy WQN8 of the proposed NRRP to apply under the Water Conservation Order (WCO).
- The definitions and management approach provided for "hydraulically connected groundwater" under policy WQN8 of the proposed NRRP are not intended to apply under the WCO.
- The term "hydraulically connected groundwater" is only used in the application in the context of defining the Upper Hurunui Waters intended to be subject to the WCO. The Upper Hurunui Waters are defined as:
"The mainstem of the Upper Hurunui River and all of its lakes, tributaries and contributing waters (including hydraulically connected groundwaters) from its source in the main divide of the Southern Alps down to immediately above its confluence with the Mandamus River (at or about NZMS 260 M33 736238)…" (paragraph 2 of Appendix A of the application)
- The application seeks that these Upper Hurunui Waters be preserved in their natural state. This means that no water takes (of ground or surface water) would be permitted, other than reasonable takes for domestic needs, stockwater and fire fighting purposes.
- Policy WQN8 of the proposed NRRP defines groundwater takes by the degree of the hydraulic connection to a surface water body for the purposes of determining how those waters should then be managed (including pumping regulation and applicable water allocation block). This classification system and related management approach can not be applied under the WCO. It is unnecessary to define groundwater takes in terms of high, moderate and low degrees of hydraulic connection, as a single regime of preservation in natural state (i.e. no take) is intended to apply under the WCO to all of these waters. In addition, Policy WQN8 (1)(b) of the NRRP (providing for inclusion of groundwater takes in water allocation blocks) can have no application, as no takes of hydraulically connected groundwater would be permitted under the WCO.
- There remains the question of whether hydraulically connected groundwaters need to be better defined in order to determine whether they are included in the definition of the Upper Hurunui Waters and therefore intended to be subject to the preservation requirement under the WCO. Where is the intended cut off point?
- The Applicants intend that any groundwater take that has a measurable stream depletion effect on the surface waters of the Upper Hurunui Waters would be prohibited. As far as the applicant are aware, the most current methodology for calculating the stream depletion effect are those developed by Jenkins (1977) and Hunt (2003) (as referred to in the definition of "calculated river depletion effect" for the purposes of Rangitata WCO). The applicants would also propose that Environment Canterbury retain the discretion to employ any other more current methodology that may be developed.
- It is noted that the WCO is also intended to apply to the Lower Hurunui River. The Lower Hurunui River, however, as defined in the application, excludes hydraulically connected groundwaters. The Lower Hurunui River is defined to be:
"The mainstem of the Lower Hurunui River from immediately above its confluence with the Mandamus River (at or about NZMS 260 M33 736238) down to the sea..." (paragraph 2 of Appendix A of the application)
- The application seeks a prohibition on damming, and minimum standards for fish screening in respect of all takes and diversions, of the Lower Hurunui River (paragraph 128 of Appendix C of the application).
- The application does not seek any other restrictions in respect of the Lower Hurunui River, for example on the quantity of takes or diversions. As such, there is no need to define groundwater takes by the degree of hydraulic connection and set out any management approach for those groundwater takes in the WCO. The provisions of the proposed NRRP (including Policy WQN8 in the event that it is confirmed) would simply apply.
- 11. We trust that this satisfactorily answers your queries. Please do not hesitate to contact us if you require any further clarification.
Stephen Christensen/Fiona McLeod