Another Hawke's Bay council opposes controversial WCO

Hastings District Council argues WCO application will harm Hawke's Bay industries by restricting water takes. Photo / File
Hastings District Council argues WCO application will harm Hawke's Bay industries by restricting water takes. Photo / File

Hastings District has become the second Hawke's Bay council to speak out against a proposed water conservation order (WCO) on the Ngaruroro and Clive rivers.

There has been growing unrest about the WCO application, jointly filed by six parties. Although a WCO is designed to protect outstanding waterways, many in Hawke's Bay fear it would impact the region's primary production sector.

Acting Mayor Sandra Hazelhurst said there was concern the WCO application would have a "devastating effect" on both the rural, and urban economy, and "serious implications" for how council supplied water.

The Ngaruroro River recharges the aquifer which supplies drinking water to 80 per cent of the region's people.

Their submission on the WCO application raises concerns around restrictions for water takes for urban water supply and irrigation.

Although council acknowledged water quality and other characteristics of these catchments were important and highly valued, "we consider that the extent of the controls recommended in the application would seriously impact our region's economy and for our people, that means employment".

This would impact the horticultural industry, and have a flow-on effect for the industries that support them, and the wider community - with many employed as a result of this sector.

Like others opponents of the application, the council's submission accepted the protection sought in the WCO application might be acceptable for the upper reaches of the Ngaruroro - but not the lower Ngaruroro and Clive catchments.

Council also considered the TANK group - a collaborative community consultation process - was the most appropriate way for determining the future management of the Tutaekuri, Ngaruroro, Ahuriri and Karamu catchments.

"Our priority is to ensure that the economic, social and recreational values of the district are properly protected alongside environmental values and that the wider ramifications of this order are properly considered," Mrs Hazlehurst said.

"Council strongly supports TANK as the appropriate forum for addressing these local water catchments, with local people involved who fully understand the water needs of our region."

Hawke's Bay Regional Council also opposed the WCO application.

A special tribunal has been appointed by the Minister for the Environment to consider the application, with a pre-hearing conference in Napier on Friday.

Chaired by Richard Fowler, the meeting will review and determine procedural matters relating to the substantive hearing - as well as discussing a site visit.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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