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  Council » Policies and Plans » Rules and regulation » Waikato Regional Plan » Waikato Regional Plan (online version) » 3.8 Drilling* » 3.8.4 Implementation Methods - Drilling

3.8.4 Implementation Methods - Drilling

3.8.4.1 Good Practice

Waikato Regional Council will, in conjunction with organisations, industry groups and individuals, develop good practice techniques for drilling, well construction, maintenance and abandonment of wells and drill holes.

3.8.4.2 Part XII RMA Enforcement

Waikato Regional Council will apply for enforcement orders, issue abatement notices and use other enforcement mechanisms in Part XII of the RMA where non-compliance with conditions of rules or consents gives rise to the following effects:

  1. Significant contamination of ground water, surface water, or soils.
  2. Uncontrolled leakage of ground water or significant loss of aquifer pressure.
  3. Discharges that:
    1. lead to land instability hazards
    2. adversely affect waahi tapu and archaeological sites.

3.8.4.3 Permitted Activity Rule – Discharge of Drilling Fluids

The discharge of water and drilling fluids from holes or wells onto or into land, or into ground water, is a permitted activity subject to the following conditions:

  1. There shall be no discharge to surface water, or discharge to land where contaminants may enter surface water.
  2. Drilling fluids shall be freshwater-based or air-based.
  3. Bentonite, and cement may be used. Other products, including polymers and surfactants, may be used provided that the product is not a hazardous substance in terms of the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act 1996.
  4. The discharge shall not be located within 20 metres of any Significant Geothermal Feature*.

Advisory Note:

  • Significant Geothermal Features are defined in the Glossary and, in Development and Limited Development Geothermal Systems, identified on maps in Section 7.10 of this Plan.

3.8.4.4 Discretionary Activity Rule – Discharge of Drilling Fluids

The discharge of water and drilling fluids from holes or wells onto or into land, or into ground water, which does not comply with Rule 3.8.4.3 is a discretionary activity (requiring resource consent).

Advisory Note:

  • Information requirements to enable the assessment of any application under this rule are set out in Section 8.1.2.6. In addition, assessment shall also take into account the matters identified in Policy 1 of Chapter 3.8.

3.8.4.5 Permitted Activity Rule – Drilling Above the Water Table

The drilling of holes above the water table is a permitted activity.

3.8.4.6 Permitted Activity Rule – Temporary Drilling Below the Water Table

Except where classified as a non-complying activity by Rule 3.8.4.9, the drilling of holes below the water table is a permitted activity subject to the following conditions:

  1. Holes drilled shall be sealed and abandoned within two days of the completion of drilling.
  2. Holes drilled shall be at least 100 metres from any water supply well.
  3. Holes drilled shall be sealed and managed such that leakage of water or contaminants to or from the ground surface is prevented.
  4. Holes drilled shall be sealed and abandoned in a manner that prevents crosscontamination between different water bodies, or changes in water pressure.
  5. The activity shall not disturb any archaeological site or waahi tapu as identified at the date of notification of this Plan, in any district plan, in the NZ Archaeological Association’s Site Recording Scheme, or by the Historic Places Trust except where Historic Places Trust approval has been obtained.
  6. In the event of any waahi tapu that is not subject to condition e) being identified by the Waikato Regional Council to the person undertaking the activity, the activity shall cease insofar as it may affect the waahi tapu. The activity shall not be recommenced without the approval of the Waikato Regional Council.
  7. Within any geothermal system, the depth of any holes drilled shall not be greater than 250 metres vertically down from the well head.

Exclusion:
The drilling of blast holes, seismic shot holes or similar, where the hole will be destroyed upon construction, and where the adverse effects on ground water are addressed through resource consents, are exempted from conditions a), b), c) and d) of this Rule.

Advisory Notes:

  • Also refer to Rule 5.1.4.14 of this Plan relating to the disturbance of soil, including vegetation destruction.
  • Where a waahi tapu site is identified whilst undertaking the activity, the process that Waikato Regional Council will follow in order to implement condition f) is set out in Section 2.3.4.22 of this Plan.
  • The drilling of blasting holes in mineral extraction sites is permitted under this rule.
  • Significant Geothermal Features are defined in the Glossary and, in Development and Limited Development Geothermal Systems, identified on maps in Section 7.10 of this Plan.

3.8.4.7 Controlled Activity Rule – Drilling Below the Water Table

The drilling of holes or wells below the water table where the hole or well is not permitted by, or does not comply with, Rule 3.8.4.6 and which is not classified as a non-complying activity by Rule 3.8.4.9, is a controlled activity (requiring resource consent) subject to the following standards and terms:

  1. All drilled holes/wells shall be constructed, maintained and/or abandoned so that they shall not cause cross-contamination between hydraulic units (aquifers) in any water including ground water and geothermal water.
  2. Holes drilled shall be at least 100 metres away from and Significant Geothermal Feature and shall not be into geothermal water within a Protected or Research Geothermal System.
  3. All holes/wells shall be managed and maintained such that leakage of water or contaminants to or from the ground surface is prevented.
  4. Materials used for well construction shall be of such quality and strength to enable the well to be completed without casing or seal leakage during construction or subsequent well operation.
  5. Wells used for potable water supply shall be located at least 30 metres from any on-site sewage disposal system.
  6. Wells used for water supply purposes, shall be located at least 50 metres from a lake or stream, and 100 metres from Mean High Water Springs*.
  7. A log for each drilled hole/well shall be forwarded to the Waikato Regional Council within two months of completion of drilling. Each log shall show:
    1. the location of the hole/well
    2. date of completion
    3. duration of drilling
    4. depth and diameter of the hole/well
    5. the method of drilling
    6. full construction details
    7. the subsurface geology
    8. results of any tests undertaken during drilling, including permeability, temperature and water quality
    9. a site diagram.
  8. The activity shall not disturb any archaeological site or waahi tapu as identified at the date of notification of this Plan, in any district plan, in the NZ Archaeological Association’s Site Recording Scheme, or by the Historic Places Trust except where Historic Places Trust approval has been obtained.
  9. In the event of any waahi tapu that is not subject to standard and term g) being identified by the Waikato Regional Council to the person undertaking the activity, the activity shall cease insofar as it may affect the waahi tapu. The activity shall not be recommenced without the approval of the Waikato Regional Council.

Waikato Regional Council reserves control over the following matters:

  1. Measures to avoid, remedy or mitigate the adverse effects of the activity on soil and water quality.
  2. Measures to avoid, remedy or mitigate the effects on other users of water.
  3. Monitoring, sampling and analysis requirements.
  4. The location and depth of drilling.
  5. Any measures necessary to rehabilitate the land following the completion of the activity.
  6. Measures to avoid, remedy or mitigate the effect of the activity on areas of significant indigenous vegetation and significant habitats of indigenous fauna.
  7. The requirements for bonds to ensure appropriate control and abandonment of deep geothermal wells.
  8. Measures taken to remove wastes introduced to the hole/well during drilling and construction.

Notification:
Applications for resource consents for activities under this Rule will be considered without notification or the need to obtain written approval of affected persons, in accordance with s94(1)(b) of the RMA.

Advisory Notes:

  • A resource consent may be required for the taking of water. Refer to the rules in Chapter 3.3 of this Plan.
  • Note that water takes in the Pukekohe area may be restricted from upper volcanic aquifers.
  • Information requirements to enable the assessment of any application under this rule are set out in Section 8.1.2.6. In addition, assessment shall also take into account the matters identified in Policy 1 of Chapter 3.8.
  • Where a waahi tapu site is discovered whilst undertaking the activity, the process that Waikato Regional Council will follow in order to implement standard and term h) is set out in Section 2.3.4.22 of this Plan.
  • For Development and Limited Development Geothermal Systems, Significant Geothermal Features, including significant geothermal vegetation or habitat, are listed in Tables 7-5 and 7-6 and defined on the maps in section 7-10 of this plan.
  • Research and Protected Geothermal Systems are mapped in Section 7.9 of this Plan. Significant Geothermal Features for these systems are defined by Feature Type in the Glossary in Appendix 1.

3.8.4.8 Discretionary Activity Rule – Drilling Below the Water Table

The drilling of holes or wells below the water table that is not permitted by, or does not comply with, Rules 3.8.4.6 or 3.8.4.7 and which is not classified as a non-complying activity under Rule 3.8.4.9, is a discretionary activity (requiring resource consent).

Advisory Note:

  • Information requirements to enable the assessment of any application under this Rule are set out in Section 8.1.2.6. In addition, assessment shall also take into account the matters identified in Policy 1 of Chapter 3.8.
  • Significant Geothermal Features are defined in the Glossary and, in Development and Limited Development Geothermal Systems, identified on maps in Section 7.10 of this Plan.

3.8.4.9 Non-Complying Activity Rule – Drilling of Holes below the water table near Geothermal Features

The drilling of new holes or new wells below the water table within:

  1. 50 metres of the following geothermal water features within Development Geothermal Systems and Limited Development Geothermal Systems as shown on maps in Section 7.10 of this Plan:
    1. Horohoro springs (features 3,5, and 6)
    2. Waipapa Stream springs
    3. Orakonui Springs at Ngatamariki (features A - J)
    4. Waikato River springs (features 1 – 4)
    5. Lake Rotokawa and springs
    6. Hall of Fame spring
    7. Otumuheke and Kathleen springs (features A and B)
    8. Alum Lake at Wairakei
    9. Waipahihi spring (Onekeneke Stream)
    10. Whangapoa springs (features 1 – 3)
    11. Tokaanu Hot Springs (features 1 - 16); or
  2. 100 metres of any geothermal feature in a Small, Research or Protected Geothermal System that naturally discharges liquid geothermal water, whether continuously or occasionally, or that is prevented from discharging by an activity that is not lawfully established

is a non-complying activity (requiring resource consent).

3.8.4.10 Permitted Activity Rule – Discharge of Water from Drilling

The discharge of up to 30 cubic metres of water arising from drilling activity into water, and onto or into land is a permitted activity subject to the following conditions:

  1. The discharge shall not cause visually noticeable iron flocculation in the receiving waters.
  2. Any discharge to water shall comply with the suspended solid standards as set out in section 3.2.4.5.
  3. The discharge shall not result in flooding on any downstream property.
  4. Any erosion occurring as a result of the discharge shall be remedied as soon as practicable.
  5. The discharge shall not cause a temperature change of more than 3º C at any point downstream which is three times the stream width at the point of discharge or which in any instance does not exceed 200 metres from the point of discharge.
  6. There shall be no discharge to any Significant Geothermal Feature.

Advisory Note:

  • Significant Geothermal Features are defined in the Glossary and, in Development and Limited Development Geothermal Systems, identified on maps in Section 7.10 of this Plan.

 

Explanation and Principal Reasons for Adopting Methods 3.8.4.1 to 3.8.4.9
Method 3.8.4.1 promotes the development of good practice. Good practices can be designed to avoid, remedy or mitigate any adverse effects that may occur as a result of the use and development of the ground water resource. Industry standards, guidelines and codes for practice have been developed for soil and rock drilling and deep geothermal drilling and are supported by Waikato Regional Council. These include:

  1. Environment Standard NZS4411:2001 for Environmental Soil and Rock Drilling.
  2. New Zealand Standard 2403:1991 Code of Practice for Deep Geothermal Wells.
  3. Safety Guidelines for Shallow Geothermal Wells, Mining Inspection Group, Ministry of Commerce, 1996.

These documents detail good practice for drilling and well construction and are regarded as minimum requirements for drilling.

Method 3.8.4.2 indicates that where non-compliance with rules or consents relating to the drilling of holes and discharge of drilling fluids results in significant adverse effects on land and water, Waikato Regional Council will consider taking enforcement action. Enforcement action can be by way of enforcement order, abatement notice or another mechanism under Part XII of the RMA. This could prohibit a person from commencing, or require them to cease, an activity related to drilling. The reason for adopting this method is that potentially serious effects may occur as a result of non-compliance.

Rule 3.8.4.3 permits the discharge of drilling fluids to land or into ground water where the effects of doing so are likely to be minor.

Drilling operations where the discharge of drilling fluids does not meet the conditions in Rule 3.8.4.3 will be assessed as discretionary activities under Rule 3.8.4.4Rule 3.8.4.5 has been included in the Plan for clarity as drilling above the water table is permitted under s9 of the RMA.

With regard to Rule 3.8.4.6, there is a large amount of drilling undertaken below the water table for geotechnical or similar investigation purposes where the hole is backfilled and sealed without long term connection to the surface, or between aquifers being constructed. For the purposes of this Rule, resource investigation includes, but is not limited to, geotechnical, mineral and foundation investigations. The short duration of the activity creates a temporary conduit only and hence reduced potential for adverse effects. Provided these holes are immediately sealed and abandoned in compliance with the conditions described, the potential for ongoing adverse environmental effects is minimal. The 100 metre separation condition reduces the likelihood of any contamination of water supplies from drilling activities. Condition g) has been included to minimise the risk of drilling into a pressurised geothermal system.

Rule 3.8.4.7 provides for resource users to drill holes below the water table. The collection of drill-log information required in these conditions is important for monitoring purposes, and will enable Waikato Regional Council to build a regional database and make appropriate and informed resource management decisions. The requirements for appropriate construction and sealing are included to ensure there will be no cross-contamination of hydraulic units or aquifers. In recognition of the minor effects likely to arise from drilling activities, consent applications need not be notified under this Rule. There may be instances where bonds will be required for geothermal drilling.

Rule 3.8.4.8 provides for drilling that does not comply with the controlled activity rule. Given the uncertain status and values in geothermal systems that have not been classified, and where there are potential risks associated with drilling activities (particularly increased pressures in deeper holes in geothermal systems) Waikato Regional Council wishes to retain its discretion over drilling in those areas.

Under Rule 3.8.4.9 applications for resource consents to construct wells within 50 meters of a Geothermal Water Feature in a Development Geothermal System or Limited Development Geothermal System and mapped in section 7.10 of this Plan or 100 metres of any geothermal feature in a Small, Research, or Protected Geothermal System that naturally discharges liquid thermal water, will be assessed as non-complying activities. This acknowledges the protection status of these features and is consistent with the policy directions in this Plan in relation to Significant Geothermal Features (See Section 7.4).

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