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  Council » Policies and Plans » Rules and regulation » Waikato Regional Plan » Waikato Regional Plan (online version) » 7.6 Regional Rules » 7.6.4 Takes and Discharges in Protected Systems

7.6.4 Takes and Discharges in Protected Systems

All the rules in this section shall apply to a Protected Geothermal System as mapped in section 7 9 of this plan and to geothermal water that has been shown to be strongly hydrologically connected to a mapped Protected Geothermal System.

Summary of Rules for takes and discharges in Protected Systems

Horomatangi, Orakeikorako, Te Kopia, Tongariro and Waikite-Waiotapu-Waimangu

 

flowchart


7.6.4.1 Permitted Activity Rule – Small Takes of Geothermal Water and Energy and Associated Discharges in Protected Geothermal Systems for Scientific Investigation or Enhancement Purposes

Any:

  1. Take or use of geothermal energy or water within a Protected Geothermal System, or
  2. Discharge of water and associated naturally occurring contaminants into water, or onto or into land, arising from the taking of geothermal water from within a Protected Geothermal System;

 

that is undertaken for the purpose of scientific investigation or enhancement of the geothermal system or associated surface features is a permitted activity subject to the following condition:

  1. The maximum rate at which water can be taken or discharged shall not exceed 1 tonne per day.

 

7.6.4.2 Permitted Activity Rule – Existing Small Takes of Geothermal Water and Energy and Associated Discharges in Protected Geothermal Systems

Any:

  1. Take or use of geothermal energy or water within a Protected Geothermal System; or
  2. Discharge of water and associated contaminants into water, or onto or into land, arising from the taking of geothermal water from within a Protected Geothermal System;

 

that was lawfully established or authorised prior to 23 August 2003 is a permitted activity subject to the following conditions:

  1. Except as limited by other conditions of this rule, the amount, rate and location of the activity shall not change from that which was lawfully established or authorised.
  2. The maximum rate at which surface water can be taken shall not exceed 15 tonnes per day.
  3. The maximum rate at which ground water can be taken shall not exceed 30 tonnes per day.
  4. The maximum rate at which heat from ground water can be taken without taking water shall not exceed 7,500 megajoules per day.
  5. The maximum rate at which water and contaminants can be discharged shall not exceed 30 tonnes per day.
  6. The method of any discharge shall be soakage or reinjection.
  7. There shall be no discharge into any natural surface water body.
  8. There shall be no discharge of geothermal water into any natural fresh water body.

 

7.6.4.3 Permitted Activity Rule – Use of Down-Hole Heat Exchangers in Protected Geothermal Systems

Any take of heat from geothermal ground water without taking water within a Protected Geothermal System is a permitted activity subject to the following conditions:

  1. The maximum rate at which heat can be taken shall not exceed 7,500 megajoules per day.
  2. Any take that is established after 23 August 2003 shall be located no less than 100 metres from a Significant Geothermal Feature.
  3. Waikato Regional Council (Waikato Regional Council) shall be notified in writing of the activity within one month of the start of the activity.

 

Advisory Notes:

  • This rule includes increases in existing takes of energy from Protected Geothermal Systems provided they comply with the conditions specified in the rule.
  • Refer to Drilling rules in section 3.8 of this plan

 

7.6.4.4 Discretionary Activity Rule – Existing Large Takes of Geothermal Water and Energy and Associated Discharges in Protected Geothermal Systems

Except as permitted or regulated by Rules 7.6.4.1 to 7.6.4.3, 3.3.4.11, and Rules within sections 3.5.8 and 3.8, any:

  1. Take or use of geothermal energy or water from within a Protected Geothermal System, or
  2. Discharge of water and associated contaminants into water, or onto or into land, arising from the taking of geothermal water from within a Protected Geothermal System;

 

that was lawfully established or authorised prior to 23 August 2003 is a discretionary activity (requiring resource consent).

Assessment Criteria:
The matters that Waikato Regional Council (Waikato Regional Council) considers in the assessment of a discretionary activity under this rule will include, but not be limited to:

  1. The extent to which adverse effects on Significant Geothermal Features will be avoided or remedied;
  2. The extent to which the cultural values of tangata whenua are recognised including their kaitiaki role with the geothermal resource;
  3. The extent to which the rate and volume of take will be controlled so as to manage the adverse effects on the geothermal system and overlying environment over the long term and achieve sustainable management of the resource;
  4. The provision of productive efficiency analyses for the proposed uses of the geothermal fluid and energy and the extent to which optimum productive efficiency can be achieved;
  5. The extent to which distribution of geothermal fluid or energy to secondary uses and users is accommodated where appropriate and provision is made for potential future uses, especially those that have high productive efficiency and provide a community benefit;
  6. The extent to which associated infrastructure such as structures, pipelines and wells will be designed, constructed and placed to avoid, remedy or mitigate adverse effects on biodiversity, landscape and amenity values;
  7. The extent to which the following factors are taken into account:
    • current international best practice
    • the practicality and costs of alternative locations or methodologies and the benefits that each option provides
    • the use of a precautionary approach in situations of scientific uncertainty;
  8. The extent to which consultation with key stakeholders including tangata whenua has been undertaken and the recognition of concerns has been taken into account.
  9. The extent to which heat and contaminant loads, and relative water volume and flow characteristics of the discharge will affect the receiving environment in terms of other uses, its intrinsic and cultural value and its ecological health;
  10. The extent to which remediation of significant adverse effects is achievable;
  11. Whether the discharge is the best practicable option.

 

7.6.4.5 Discretionary Activity Rule – Takes of Geothermal Water and Energy and Associated Discharges in Protected Geothermal Systems for Scientific Investigation or Enhancement Purposes

Except as permitted or regulated by Rules 7.6.4.1 to 7.6.4.4, 3.3.4.11, and Rules within sections 3.5.8 and 3.8, any:

  1. Take of up to 2,000 tonnes per day of geothermal energy or water from a Protected Geothermal System, or
  2. Discharge of water and associated naturally occurring contaminants into water, or onto or into land, arising from the taking of geothermal water from within a Protected Geothermal System;

 

that is undertaken for the purpose of scientific investigation or enhancement of the geothermal system or associated surface features is a discretionary activity (requiring resource consent).

Assessment Criteria:
The matters that Waikato Regional Council (Waikato Regional Council) considers in the assessment of a discretionary activity under this rule will include, but not be limited to:

  1. The extent to which adverse effects on Significant Geothermal Features will be avoided or remedied;
  2. The extent to which the cultural values of tangata whenua are recognised including their kaitiaki role with the geothermal resource;
  3. Provision for the identification of the system’s hydrological boundary to be researched and reviewed;
  4. Provision for research into the system’s possible hydrological connection with another large system;
  5. Provision for research into the characteristics of the geothermal system, including surface features;
  6. The extent to which the rate and volume of take will be controlled so as to manage the adverse effects on the geothermal system and overlying environment over the long term and achieve sustainable management of the resource;
  7. The extent to which the precautionary approach in situations of scientific uncertainty is taken into account:
  8. The extent to which consultation with key stakeholders including tangata whenua has been undertaken and the recognition of concerns has been taken into account.
  9. The extent to which heat and contaminant loads, and relative water volume and flow characteristics of the discharge will affect the receiving environment in terms of other uses, its intrinsic and cultural value and its ecological health;
  10. The extent to which remediation of significant adverse effects is achievable;
  11. The extent to which the duration of the activity is limited to that necessary for scientific or enhancement purposes;
  12. Whether the discharge is the best practicable option.

 

7.6.4.6 Prohibited Activity Rule – New Takes of Geothermal Water and Energy and Associated Discharges in Protected Geothermal Systems

Except as permitted or regulated by Rules 7.6.4.1 to 7.6.4.5, 3.3.4.11, and Rules within sections 3.5.8 and 3.8, any:

  1. Take of geothermal energy or water from a Protected Geothermal System, or
  2. Discharge of water and associated contaminants into water, or onto or into land, arising from the taking of geothermal water from within a Protected Geothermal System;

 

that was not lawfully established or authorised prior to 23 August 2003 is a prohibited activity for which no resource consent shall be granted.

Explanation and Principal Reasons for Adopting Rules 7.6.4.1 to 7.6.4.6 Rules 7.6.4.1 to 7.6.4.6 establish the regulatory regime for takes and associated discharges from Protected Geothermal Systems. These rules stem from the Policies in Section 3.7 of the Regional Policy Statement and Section 7.4 of this Plan.

Each rule, except for Rule 7.6.4.3, addresses both the take and discharge of geothermal energy and water so that in most cases users do not have to apply for separate consents for take and discharge of the same water. Rule 7.6.4.3 addresses the use of down-hole heat exchangers, from which no discharge is necessary. The use of down-hole heat exchangers is promoted because it results in no loss of geothermal water, and less loss of heat, than the taking of geothermal water and subsequent discharge into the environment.

Small existing uses of Protected Geothermal Systems are permitted under Rule 7.6.4.2 subject to conditions, on the basis that the level of effects is minor. This rule allows existing takes of up to 15 tonnes per day of surface water and 30 tonnes per day of ground water from Protected Geothermal Systems, together with associated discharges. As well as restricting the scale of existing uses, Rule 7.6.4.2 requires in condition f) that discharges are by soakage or reinjection. Condition g) ensures that natural surface water is not contaminated by the discharge and that discharge does not occur to geothermal surface features. Condition h) ensures protection of fresh ground water. These conditions are considered necessary to ensure that the viability of Protected Geothermal Systems and their associated significant surface features are sustained (as required by Regional Policy Statement Section 3.7.2.4). In condition e), for surface takes the rule allows for a daily discharge greater than the take to enable some flexibility of stored fluid.

Existing small uses that cannot comply with Rules 7.6.4.2 or 7.6.4.3 are regulated as discretionary activities under Rule 7.6.3.4, on the basis that a case by case assessment is required of whether these activities should be allowed to continue.

However, exceptions are made for takes and discharges undertaken for scientific investigation or enhancement purposes are allowed for in Rules 7.6.3.1 and 7.6.3.6, as such activities may well be of benefit to the sustainable management of Protected Geothermal Systems. Very small takes are permitted under Rule 7.6.4.1, and larger activities are discretionary under Rule 7.6.4.7, recognising that they should not proceed unless the effects are minor. The discharge of tracers for scientific investigation is covered under Rule 3.5.9.1.

Other than takes of energy by means of down-hole heat exchangers, and takes and discharges for research purposes, all new takes and discharges of geothermal energy and water are prohibited under Rule 7.6.4.6. This recognises the significant values associated with these systems, and their vulnerability to serious or irreversible damage. Waikato Regional Council (Waikato Regional Council) considers that new developments are likely to result in adverse effects that are so significant that they cannot be adequately avoided, remedied, or mitigated under any circumstances.

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