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  Council » Policies and Plans » Rules and regulation » Waikato Regional Plan » Waikato Regional Plan (online version) » 7.6 Regional Rules » 7.6.5 Takes and Discharges in Small Systems

7.6.5 Takes and Discharges in Small Systems

Summary of Rules For Takes and Discharges In Small Systems

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7.6.5.1 Permitted Activity Rule –Small Takes of Geothermal Water and Energy and Associated Discharges in Small Geothermal Systems

Any:

  1. Take or use of geothermal energy or water within a Small 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 Small Geothermal System;

 

is a permitted activity subject to the following conditions:

  1. The maximum rate at which water can be taken shall not exceed 30 tonnes per day.
  2. The maximum rate at which heat can be taken without taking water shall not exceed 7,500 megajoules per day.
  3. Any take that is established after 23 August 2003 shall not be located within 100 metres of a Significant Geothermal Feature.
  4. Any discharge established after 23 August 2003 shall not be located within 20 metres of a Significant Geothermal Feature.
  5. Any well constructed after 23 August 2003 for the purposes of taking geothermal ground water shall be at least 20 metres from any other well that existed at the time of construction.
  6. The maximum rate at which water and contaminants can be discharged shall not exceed 30 tonnes per day.
  7. The method of any discharge shall be soakage or reinjection.
  8. There shall be no discharge into any natural surface water body.
  9. There shall be no discharge of geothermal water into any natural fresh water body.
  10. 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:

  • Refer to Drilling rules in section 3.8 of this plan

 

7.6.5.2 Discretionary Activity Rule –Takes of Geothermal Water and Energy and Associated Discharges in Small Geothermal Systems

Except as permitted or regulated by Rules 7.6.5.1, 3.3.4.11, and Rules within sections 3.5.8 and 3.8, any:

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

 

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 characteristics of the geothermal system, including its productive capacity;
  5. 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;
  6. 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;
  7. The extent to which system development maximises the potential of the resource, and may exclude more efficient uses;
  8. 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;
  9. 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;
  10. The extent to which consultation with key stakeholders including tangata whenua has been undertaken and the recognition of concerns has been taken into account.
  11. 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;
  12. The effect on the sustainability of the geothermal system from loss of the energy and fluid contained in the discharge;
  13. Whether the discharge is the best practicable option.

 

7.6.5.3 Non-Complying Activity Rule –Takes of Geothermal Water and Energy and Associated Discharges in Small Geothermal Systems

Except as permitted or regulated by Rules 7.6.5.1, 7.6.5.2, 3.3.4.11, and Rules within sections 3.5.8 and 3.8, any:

  1. Take of geothermal energy or water from a Small 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 Small Geothermal System;

 

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

Advisory Note:

  • Information requirements to enable the assessment of any application under this rule are set out in Section 8.1.2.1 and 8.1.2.2 of this Plan.

 

Explanation and Principal Reasons for Adopting Rules 7.6.5.1 to 7.6.5.3

Rules 7.6.5.1 to 7.6.5.3 establish the regulatory regime for takes and associated discharges from Small 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 addresses both the take and discharge of geothermal energy and water so that in most cases users do not have apply for separate consents for take and discharge of the same water.

Both existing and new small-scale activities are permitted under Rule 7.6.5.1, subject to limits on the allowable scale of development. It allows takes of up to 15 tonnes per day of surface water and 30 tonnes per day of ground water from Small Systems, together with associated discharges. Activities of this scale generally have much smaller adverse effects than larger developments.

As well as restricting the scale of existing uses, Rule 7.6.5.1 requires in condition g) that discharges are by soakage or reinjection. Condition h) ensures that natural surface water is not contaminated by the discharge and that discharge does not occur to geothermal surface features. Condition i) ensures protection of fresh ground water. These conditions are considered necessary to ensure that the viability of Small Systems and any associated significant surface features are sustained (as required by Regional Policy Statement, Section 3.7.2.5). In condition f), this rule allows for a daily discharge greater than the take to enable some flexibility of stored geothermal water.

Existing and new medium-sized uses that cannot comply with Rule 7.6.5.1 are regulated as discretionary activities under Rule 7.6.5.2, on the basis that a case by case assessment is required of whether these activities should be allowed to continue.

Through Rules 7.6.5.1 and 7.6.5.2 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.

Any other take or discharge is non-complying under Rule 7.6.5.3. This recognises that Small Geothermal Systems have limited capacity for development, and ensures that the systems’ resources are retained for traditional and small to medium-scale permitted and consented activities.

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