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  Council » Policies and Plans » Rules and regulation » Waikato Regional Plan » Waikato Regional Plan (online version) » 3.3 Water Takes » 3.3.1 Issue

3.3.1 Issue

In addition to the effects addressed in Issue 3.1.1, the taking and use of water can give rise to, or must respond to, the following:

  1. The taking of water can reduce the ability of water bodies to assimilate contaminants from point and non-point sources. In relation to the Waikato River catchment this is inconsistent with giving effect to the overarching purpose of restoring and protecting the health and wellbeing of the Waikato River for present and future generations.
  2. The allocation and use of water, if not managed appropriately, can adversely affect the restoration and protection of the health and well-being of the Waikato River as well as the spiritual, physical and economic wellbeing, identity and cultural practices of those iwi whose mana and mauri the river represents.
  3. The inefficient allocation and use of water within the Region can significantly reduce the benefits to be derived from the use of the resource.
  4. The allocation of water currently used for the generation of electricity to other uses will reduce existing electricity generation, and this can have adverse effects on the social and economic wellbeing of people and communities.
  5. The allocation of water to activities other than domestic or municipal supply may have the potential to compromise the renewal of existing domestic or municipal supply takes and the granting of future applications for reasonably justified and foreseeable domestic or municipal supply needs.
  6. Existing water takes contribute to the social and economic wellbeing of people and communities and in some cases significant investment relies on the continuation of those takes.
  7. The ability to provide for the growing social and economic needs of people and communities, is dependent on water being available, where possible, to accommodate growth both in individuals’ and communities’ domestic needs and production and community activity (including rural-based activities such as agriculture, perishable food processing and industry).
  8. The unmanaged taking of water during periods of shortage, or over allocation of water resources, can:
    1. significantly impact on the quality of the Region's water bodies;
    2. compromise the ability of individuals and communities, to provide for their essential water use requirements, including domestic or municipal supply or for stock watering, and may result in adverse effects on the environment.
    3. reduce the ability of water bodies and estuaries to transport sediment, with consequent increases in flooding and stream bank instability
    4. increase the risk of salt water intrusion to aquifers on account of high seasonal demandincreased threats to estuarine ecosystems on account of adverse changes to the quantity and quality of fresh water inflows.
  9. Some catchments are currently allocated in excess of the combined primary and secondary flows set in Table 3-5 and that exceedence should be phased out over time.
  10. The unmanaged transfer of permits for the taking of water limits the potential to fully utilise the allocable resource, may limit the range of reasonably foreseeable uses and may result in adverse effects on the environment.
  11. The individual and cumulative effects of the taking of water may;
    1. constrain the ability to protect and enhance the health and wellbeing of the Region's water bodies, and result in the degradation of water quality and aquatic habitat
    2. impact on cultural relationships with the water bodies in the Region
    3. limit the availability of water for other actual and potential uses
    4. compromise the generation of electricity from renewable energy sources and cooling of the Huntly Power Station.

Explanation: 
This issue addresses matters which are either not included in Issue 3.1.1 or which are included but are not clearly attributable to water allocation and use. Part a) acknowledges that the taking of water out of a water body reduces its ability to assimilate (dilute) contaminants and that this may compromise the legitimate use of the resource for this purpose. The transfer of permits is a mechanism by which greater efficiency of use may be achieved and which should not be overly constrained by plan rules. Part aa) reflects the Vision and Strategy for the Waikato River which has as the overarching purpose of restoring and protecting the health and wellbeing of the Waikato River for present and future generations. Part b) also recognises and acknowledges the importance of the relationship of Waikato River Iwi with the region’s waterways and in particular the Waikato River and how this may be impacted by the taking and use of water.

Part c) recognises that the inefficient allocation and use of water can reduce the benefits of the use of the resource, to other users.

Part d) recognises that water allocated to electricity generation has significant social and economic benefits.

Part e) reflects that increasing demand and competition for water resources has the potential to lead to over allocation of those resources and compromise the ability to provide for the health and wellbeing of existing communities and for their future growth.

Part f) recognises that many existing uses of water are associated with significant and productive activities that contribute to economic and community well-being and depend on a secure supply of water.

Part h) recognises that unmanaged taking of water during water shortages and over allocation of water resources can significantly compromise the quality of the Region’s water resources, as well as the ability of individuals and communities to provide for their essential water use. When water shortages or over allocation of resources occur there may not be enough water to supply everyone’s needs, and to avoid adverse effects on the environment. Therefore takes need to be appropriately managed to ensure that adverse effects on the environment are avoided, and domestic or municipal supply can be maintained and future growth of communities can be provided for.

Part i) recognises that in some catchments the existing abstractions exceed the Table 3-5 allocable flows. This has occurred for a number of reasons, including:

  1. users being unaware of, or disregarding rules regulating water takes;
  2. the cumulative effect of numerous small resource consents continuing to be granted in heavily allocated catchments;
  3. assessment of minimum and allocable flows in some catchments resulting in a reduction in the amount of water available for allocation; and
  4. assessment of minimum and allocable flows in some catchments being conservatively set in the absence of a detailed ecological investigation.

The NPS on Freshwater Management requires allocation limits to be set and defines ‘over-allocation’. Chapters 3.3 and 3.4 were developed prior to the release of the Operative NPS and it was not intended that an exceedence of an allocable flow as set out in Table 3-5 would be considered to be ‘over-allocation’ as defined in the NPS. The flows in Table 3-5 have been set to achieve Objective 3.3.2 and they also determine the activity status of water take consent applications. The activities identified in Policy 6 are enabled to achieve aspects of Objective 3.3.2.

Part j) recognises that the unmanaged transfer of permits can result in situations where the reverse is the case and parties may hoard the resource or make inefficient use of existing permits in order to maximise economic returns from trading. Part k) recognises that the cumulative effects of takes of water, particularly large numbers of un-recorded permitted takes, can be significant and can, under some circumstances, impact on the consented taking and use of water. Without management, and if appropriate, capping of these small takes, this effect could significantly detract from the ability of other users to provide for their social, economic and cultural well being.

Part k) Sub-clause (iii) further recognises that the benefits to be derived from the use and development of renewable energy are a matter to which particular regard shall be had under Section 7(j) of the Resource Management Act 1991. The taking of water from the catchments upstream of the Karapiro Dam including the Waikato River and Lake Taupo, can cumulatively impact on the generation of electricity from renewable energy sources and the cooling of the Huntly Power Station. As well as being a valued natural resource in its own right, Lake Taupo also plays an integral role in the flexible operation of the Waikato Hydro Scheme through providing critical hydro storage capacity which can be relied on to provide a buffer during drier periods. As such, this issue has year-round relevance. The Tongariro Power Scheme (TPS) and the Waikato Hydro Scheme work as an integrated system. The TPS draws water from four catchments (Whanganui, Whangaehu, Moawhango and Waikato River) and diverts the water into Lake Taupo. The water diverted from outside the Waikato River catchment plays a significant role in both providing additional flow to the Waikato Hydro Scheme and the cooling system at HPS.

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