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Watercare submission - March 2021

HortNZ has submitted on Watercare’s application to take from Waikato River.

The application was called-in by the Board of Inquiry in September 2020 in response to the drought experienced in Auckland Region.


Key submission points:

  1. We did not oppose the application as there was no immediate impact to existing consented takes, or remaining available water. The application is for an additional 150MLD. Mid-March 2021 Waikato Regional Council sent notice that a number of applications ahead of the queue had been withdrawn or amended, releasing 181MLD back into the allocation.
  2. We sought a condition of consent holding Watercare to working with horticultural irrigators and Council on sharing unused consent take.
  3. The submission uses the opportunity to raise matters that should be considered in the 2022 scheduled review of the water take provisions in the Waikato Regional Plan:
  • A review of the allocation framework:
    • The method for determining allocation is deemed to be particularly conservative compared to other parts of the country. Review of this method is necessary to ensure allocation provisions are meeting current needs (i.e. protecting water quality and the balance between managing highly productive land and urban growth).
    • Detailed investigations of the river ecology and associated wetlands to enable review of the allocable flow in the river downstream of the Huntly Power Station.
  • Guidance on the weighting applied to criteria for assessing groundwater connections in order to provide more certainty for water users.