Project Update – Clifton Falls Walkway Community Project

With the assistance of Waitaki Irrigators Collective’s water stewardship initiative, Waitaki Water, the Clifton Falls Walkway Community Project received funding through the Otago Regional Council’s ECO Fund .

 

Project Manager, Jane Strang, has provided us with this update;

Good progress has been made on the walkway which has seen the tractor and disc running over it in preparation for the grass seed to be sown.   An initial 150 m has already been sprayed in readiness for the first planting session, which is scheduled to take place towards the middle of September.  The next few weeks will see the removal of the the dead broom and blackberry plants.  Local Five Forks School, as ambassadors of the project, will assist with the planting and the students have already started planning their pest trapping strategy and will be making their own traps.

 

We look forward to receiving further progress reports in due course.  Keep up the great work!

 

Here are some photos showing the progress made on the track over the last few months;

 

Successful ECO Fund Applications – March 2020 Funding Round

On 22 April 2020, the Otago Regional Council approved recommendations by the ECO Fund Decision Panel to support 14 community-led environmental projects around the region.

 

Chair of the panel, Cr Michael Deaker, said “We had a range of outstanding applications in this round, and I’m thrilled by the projects we’ve been able to support.”

 

WIC’s water stewardship initiative Waitaki Water, was fortunate enough to be involved in two successful (North Otago) funding applications and we are looking forward to tracking the progress of both of these projects.

 

The full ORC media release can be found here.

Call-in of Plan Changes by Minister Parker

On Thursday 9 April 2020, the Otago Regional Council announced that Minister for the Environment, Hon David Parker, had called in both the Water Permits Plan Change (Plan Change 7) and the Water Quality Plan Changes (formerly ‘omnibus’ incorporating Plan Changes 8 and 1).

 

What does this mean?

  • The Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) will take over the process of the notification of both plan changes for submissions ahead of hearings in the Environment Court.
  • Plan Change 7 had already been notified by the Otago Regional Council and the consultation process closed on 4 May.  Given the Minister’s decision however, Plan Change 7 will be notified for a second time, which will allow those who have not yet submitted, a second opportunity to do so.
  • Plan Change 8 & 1 will be notified by the EPA for the first time and submissions will be called for.
  • Following further submissions in support or opposition of existing submissions, the matter will go to the Environment Court and a hearing procedure established.
  • Anyone who has submitted on these plan changes, will be able to be heard without legal representation, as they would at a council hearing.

 

A recommendation by Council for further consultation with mandatory parties and sector group representatives, has been put forward to the EPA.  It is not yet known whether this recommendation will be considered by the EPA.

 

Given Covid-19, the exact timeline of events is not yet known.

 

Further information can be found here.

ORC’s Proposed Plan Change 6AA

WIC has submitted in favour of ORC’s proposed plan change to postpone the date at which conditions on discharge contamination and on nitrogen leaching come into force, from 1 April 2020 to 1 April 2026.  Included in the WIC submission were a list of comments for consideration.

 

The full submission can be found here submission-form-pc6aa_Waitaki Irrigators Collective Ltd Final.

 

ORC anticipates a full review of the Water Plan will be completed and a new Plan in place before the 1 April 2026.

 

Action for Healthy Waterways Update

The consultation period for Ministry for the Environment’s Action for healthy waterways, officially closed on 31st October and according to MfE, around 17,500 submissions have been received.

 

To read WIC’s submission, click on the following link  WIC Submission to the Action for Healthy Waterways

 

The next steps are as follows;

 

  • MfE will provide a summary of submissions to Ministers to inform their decision making.

 

  • An Independent Advisory Panel will review all submissions. This panel was appointed by Environment Minister David Parker and is chaired by retired Principal Environment Court Judge David Sheppard. The panel is not at this stage intending to meet any submitters, unless it has specific questions. The panel is expected to provide recommendations to Ministers early next year on content and specific wording of the regulations.

 

  • The Ministry for the Environment and the Ministry for Primary Industries will also provide advice to Ministers on feedback on the proposals from meetings and submissions, as well as options Ministers may want to consider.

 

  • Ministers are expected to make decisions on the final shape of new freshwater regulations in the first half of next year, with a view to having the regulations in force by mid-year.

 

  • Once decisions have been reached, the summary of submissions and individual submissions will be made public on the MfE consultation web page.

Dam Safety Regulations

Earlier this year, there was consultation by central government around dam safety regulations.

 

The proposed regulations would apply to;

 

  • any dam or pond that is less than 4m above ground level and holds 30,000m3 or more, or
  • and dam or pond that is 4m above ground or more and holds 20,000m3 or more

 

According to the proposal, pond or dam owners whose storage meets either of the above criteria, would have to engage the services of a suitably recognised engineer to carry out a Potential Impact Assessment, which would then be submitted to regional councils to determine whether it is a risk (in terms of a breach i.e. earthquake) to life, environment or property.

 

Depending on the risk assessment, farmers may potentially have to go through a dam safety assurance programme as well as an annual audit to ensure that the dam or pond is safe.

 

In addition to affecting farmers with irrigation dams or ponds, these proposals could also affect farmers who have stock water storage ponds, flood prevention or capture dams, effluent ponds, and canals or races with built-up sides.

 

The Proposed Regulatory Framework for Dam Safety can be found here.

 

 

ECan’s Fish Screens Update

Last week, Environment Canterbury (ECan) released their fish screen progress report.

 

ECan have advised that part of their focus for 2019/2020 is to develop a five-year programme which will include a ‘catchment-based approach that will look at multiple fish screens on the same surface water source’.   It is anticipated that this programme will address fish screens on over 95% of the consented surface water takes.

 

The full fish screen update can be found here.

ORC’s Proposed Plan Change 6AA to the Regional Plan: Water

Earlier this month the Otago Regional Council (ORC) notified a Proposed Plan Change 6AA to the Regional Plan: Water for Otago.

 

The plan change proposes to postpone the date at which conditions on discharge contaminant concentration and on nitrogen leaching come into force, from 1 April 2020 to 1 April 2026.  According to ORC, the postponement will allow for better ‘alignment with the national direction being proposed by central government’.

 

Submissions on this proposed plan change close on Monday 4th November, 5pm.

 

A full review of the Water Plan is expected to have been completed by 2026.

 

For more information around 6AA, click here.

Action for Healthy Waterways

On the 5th September 2019, Government released proposed new requirements around freshwater management that would;

 

  • strengthen Te Mana o Te Wai as the framework for freshwater management
  • better provide for ecosystem health (water, fish and plant life)
  • better protect wetlands and estuaries
  • better manage stormwater and wastewater, and protect sources of drinking water
  • control high-risk farming activities and limit agricultural intensification
  • improve farming management practices

 

An overview of these proposals can be found in a discussion document entitled Action for Health Waterways.

 

Government is seeking feedback on these proposals.  Submission close on Thursday 31st October.

 

For further information click here.

Environment Canterbury’s Plan Change 7

Environment Canterbury has notified Plan Change 7 to the Canterbury Land & Water Regional Plan (CLWRP) for public submissions.  Submissions (formal comments/feedback) will be received until 5pm on 13 September 2019.  Read more at https://ecan.govt.nz/get-involved/news-and-events/2019/plan-change-7-and-plan-change-2-what-you-need-to-know/

 

PC7 is split into three parts (Parts A,B and C).

 

Part A is an ‘Omnibus’ change proposing amendments to region-wide provisions (policies, rules, maps and schedules).

 

Part A aims to:

  • Improve freshwater outcomes for Canterbury
  • Protect habitats of indigenous freshwater species
  • Enable consideration of Ngāi Tahu values in relation to a broader range of activities
  • Provide the use of managed aquifer recharge across the region
  • Establish a new nutrients framework for commercial vegetable growing operations
  • Implement recommendations from the Hinds Drains Working Party

 

Parts B and C of PC7 relate to the Orari Temuka Opihi Pareora (OTOP) and Waimakariri sub-regions respectively.