A logging operation which filled a Northland stream with silt and now indirectly threatens a hapū's spring had no resource consent, it has been revealed.

Last week Wi Pou, chairman of the trust which looks after Waikotihe spring near Kaikohe, appealed to the town's residents to reduce their water use to prevent the spring running dry.

Normally the Far North District Council draws most water for Kaikohe's town supply from the Wairoro Stream, but a forestry operation in the Te Pua Rd area has led to high levels of sediment in the water.

The filters at the council's Taraire Hills treatment plant can't handle the amount of silt, forcing the council to pump more water from its bore on Monument Hill. However, the bore taps into the same aquifer that feeds the nearby Waikotihe spring.

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Water from Waikotihe spring is collected in this tank then piped to homes, a marae and a church. Photo / Peter de Graaf
Water from Waikotihe spring is collected in this tank then piped to homes, a marae and a church. Photo / Peter de Graaf

A dry winter means the aquifer is already low — 54m below ground level — and dropping.

If it falls to 58m, the spring, which Whakaeke hapū says is key to its identity and life force, will likely dry up.

Enquiries by the Advocate have since revealed the forestry company responsible for the silt in the stream did not initially have a resource consent.

Colin Dall, the Northland Regional Council's regulatory services manager, said staff were informed in May 2016 that the FNDC water treatment plant was experiencing problems due to discolouration of Wairoro Stream.

When NRC officers investigated they found debris and slash from a forestry operation in and close to tributaries of the Wairoro Stream, upstream of the treatment plant's water intake.

The harvesting operation, which was managed by Asian Natural Resources Ltd, did not have a resource consent and was not complying with forestry earthworks rules set out in Northland's Regional Water and Soil Plan, Dall said.

Waikotihe Trust chairman Wi Pou at a spring his hapu fears will dry up because silt from a logging operation has polluted Kaikohe’s normal water source, forcing the council to rely on an aquifer beneath the town. Photo / Peter de Graaf
Waikotihe Trust chairman Wi Pou at a spring his hapu fears will dry up because silt from a logging operation has polluted Kaikohe’s normal water source, forcing the council to rely on an aquifer beneath the town. Photo / Peter de Graaf

The company was issued with an abatement notice ordering it to, among other things, control stormwater and run-off to prevent down-slope erosion and sediment discharges, and to ensure tracks and roads were constructed in a way that didn't make slopes unstable.

When staff last visited the harvesting site in June 2016 the notice was being complied with, Dall said.

However, given reports the water treatment plant was still experiencing problems, the NRC would revisit the logging site to check for sediment and silt discharges.

The director of Asian Natural Resources was contacted a number of times for comment.