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Pareora River Plan shows value of community participation

More than two years of learning about South Canterbury’s Pareora

River and its communities comes to fruition in a week’s time

with the release of the Pareora River Plan.

“Significantly, this plan has the support of the wider community,

who have come together with a common goal of ensuring the river’s

future viability,” said Environment Canterbury commissioner

Peter Skelton. “It’s a momentous step forward.”

The review of the river’s flow and its resource allocation,

initiated by Environment Canterbury, was prompted by the fact

that the river had reached its environmental bottom line, he

said.

“This is a good example of how we can go forward in Canterbury

in managing water. It emphasises the need for communities to

work together to achieve long-term, sustainable solutions without

the need for expensive litigation. It’s a very similar approach

to that being taken by the Canterbury Water Management Strategy,

where zone committees will be responsible for recommending ways

forward on environmental and development options.”

As the supply for half of Timaru District’s domestic and industrial

water supplies, historically a renowned trout fishery, source

of water for farmers and of significant value to tangata whenua,

the Pareora has many groups interested in its future.

“People need to sustain their livelihoods but they also acknowledge

the need to redress the environmental balance, biodiversity and

cultural values,” said Commissioner Skelton.

“A community advisory group was set up by Environment Canterbury

following a public meeting at the end of 2007 in the Southburn

Hall,” said Judith Earl-Goulet, resource care team leader at

Environment Canterbury’s Timaru office and steering group facilitator

“This included representatives of Te Runanga o Arowhenua, Forest

and Bird, Fish and Game, Timaru and Waimate District Councils,

local residents from throughout the catchment, irrigators and

recreationa lists.

“A steering group of 12 members, covering that diversity of

interests, then began the detailed work of considering technical

reports and water management options. This was an intensive and

collaborative process with everyone contributing to discussions

and recommendations and with communication back to the people

they represented.

“There was agreement from group members that water allocation

in the Pareora catchment had to be addressed. At the end of the

day, a unanimous position was reached which involved concessions

from everyone. All parties have “given something” to the process,”

said Ms Earl-Goulet.

Essentially the following trade-off is being proposed:

•     there is to be a cap on new consents

•     there is to be a reduction in October and November of the

amount of water abstracted by irrigators and Timaru District

Council.

In return:

•     Irrigators are to have greater access to flood flows, which

will encourage on-farm storage.

The review of the river’s flow regime is part of a wider programme

of flow and water allocation reviews throughout the region, under

Section 65 of the Resource Management Act. Flow plans can be

tailored to address catchment-specific issues and the needs of

the local community.

The Proposed Pareora Catchment Environmental Flow and Water Allocation

Regional Plan will be publicly notified on Saturday August 7.

It was approved by Council commissioners at today’s July monthly

meeting. Submissions on the Proposed Pareora Catchment Environmental

Flow and Water Allocation Regional Plan open on Saturday August

7 and close on Friday October 1.

Commissioner Skelton noted that the rules in the proposed plan

become legally effective as of August 7.

NB Media: There is a lot more detall on this in the council agenda:

http://ecan.govt.nz/news-and-notices/minutes/pages/council-agenda-290710.aspx

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