Aim for common vision on water use across the region

By Lawrence Gullery

Water allocation limits and quality targets are likely to be changed before a large number of water permits expire and the holders begin applying for new ones from 2015.

The Hawke's Bay Regional Council is amending its regional resource management plan which it used as a guideline to assess water permit applications against how much water was actually available and the water quality limits users must achieve.

It was generally accepted the region's water had been over-allocated to users such as irrigators, contributing to low river water levels and lower than desired water quality.

The Regional Council said a number of water permits in the greater Heretaunga and Ahuriri catchment area would expire in 2015 and it expected most permit holders to reapply.

A community group of about 30 people from the agricultural and horticultural sectors, environmental and community interest groups and tangata whenua was meeting with the council on changes to the management plan. The group included people from the Tutaekuri, Ahuriri, Ngaruroro and Karamu river catchments.

The group worked alongside researchers from the Cawthron Institute and Landcare Research. It held its second meeting in Hastings recently, as part of a year-long initiative to achieve consensus for water management.

Regional Council chairman Fenton Wilson said the council was trialling the new approach for setting objectives and limits for freshwater in line with the national Land and Water Forum's recommendations.

"We've given a good faith undertaking to implement any consensus outcome agreed by the group, if one emerges, as long as it is consistent with higher level documents such as the Resource Management Act and the Hawke's Bay Land and Water Management Strategy."

At the second meeting, members heard science presentations from regional council staff about Hawke's Bay's hydrology and geological setting, as well as some of the management issues throughout the catchments and the near-coastal zone.

It was hoped by bringing water users together, a common vision for water management in the catchment might be achieved.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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