Otago regional councillor Michael Laws has moved a notice of motion in a bid to change the Otago Regional Council's (ORC) handling of water issues in three Central Otago and Queenstown Lakes catchments.

His motion, which seeks to throw out a previous allocation limit and calculate a new allocation and minimum flow plan change at the same time, had been accepted and would be discussed at the council's policy committee meeting tomorrow Cr Laws said.

The move has been welcomed by Manuherikia water users and is supported by at least one other regional councillor, Cr Graeme Bell.

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The notice of motion was for the "historical ... allocation limit of 3200 litres/second [3.2cumecs] for the Manuherikia catchment" to be "disregarded" and the allocation be considered only after all the "required scientific, hydrology, economic, social and environmental reports are collated", Cr Laws said.

It also asks that any proposed minimum flow change for the Arrow, Cardrona and Manuherikia catchments follow "the full process outlined in the National Policy Statement on Freshwater Management", and for any water allocation limits for the above catchments to be included in any proposed plan change.

Mr Laws said the notice of motion would "effectively halt" the combined Arrow, Cardrona and Manuherikia minimum flow plan change.

He said the catchments and communities "are actually facing two plan changes in four years - the ORC minimum flow change and then the Government's national policy on freshwater management by 2025".

"I'm arguing, with Cr Graeme Bell's support, that we should do it once, and do it properly. Do all the scientific, ecological, economic and social reports for all the affected catchments and do both the minimum flow and water allocation regimes at the same time."

Otago Water Resource Users Group (OWRUG) Manuherikia sub-group chairman Gary Kelliher, who was last month critical of Ms Gardner promoting anew the 3.2 cumecs allocation, and said it would wipe out more than half of the farming operations in the Manuherikia Valley, said water users there were relieved to see the notice of motion.

Mr Kelliher said the motion was "basically just requesting the ORC do its job properly and follow due process. There has been much angst amongst 650 families in this catchment due to the implications that the historical and uninformed/unintended figure of 3200litres/sec brings".

"The catchment will be watching closely the outcome and stance from councillors with this notice of motion, and in particular the councillors outside of the Dunstan constituency.


The ORC chairman often refers to councillors being required to act in the best interests for all of Otago, and this notice of motion is an opportunity for those councillors to do this".