3.3 Water Takes
Background and Explanation
Chapters 3.3 and 3.4 comprise of issues, objectives, policies and implementation methods which set out the Plan's approach to the protection, allocation and use of the Region's surface and groundwater resources (excluding geothermal water which is addressed elsewhere in the Plan). These chapters are based upon the following broad approach:
The need for a carefully managed water allocation regime
- The Waikato River Co-Management framework introduces a range of co-management (refer to definitions) principles that give effect to agreements between Waikato River Iwi and the Crown regarding all aspects of the management of the Waikato River and its catchment. This includes, but is not limited to, the development of the Vision and Strategy which is the primary direction setting document for the Waikato River and activities within its catchment affecting the Waikato River. This water allocation regime must give effect to the Vision and Strategy which is now part of the Waikato Regional Policy Statement.
- Recognition that the overarching purpose of the Vision and Strategy is to restore and protect the health and wellbeing of the Waikato River for present and future generations and that this is a key priority in the development of a water allocation model. Any allocation regime must give effect to that overarching purpose.
- Having regard to the overarching purpose of the Vision and Strategy, recognition that in many parts of the region, demand for surface water and groundwater resources exceeds, or has the potential to exceed, the ability of the surface and groundwater resources to sustainably meet all such demand and so a carefully managed water allocation regime is necessary. The allocation regime should also ensure that the taking and subsequent use of water does not cause further degradation of the water quality of the Waikato River.
Priorities recognised in setting and implementing allocable flows and sustainable yields
- Objectives which ensure that in establishing allocation regimes, effect is given to the overarching purpose of the Vision and Strategy to restore and protect the health and wellbeing of the Waikato River. The objectives should reflect the special relationship of iwi with particular water bodies and accordingly provide for iwi involvement in determining and reviewing the allocable and environmental flows for those water bodies. The objectives should also ensure that water is available to meet the reasonable needs of individual and communities; continued water is available for renewable energy generation and cooling of the Huntly Power Station, water for in-stream requirements during water shortages and droughts is available and that decisions on water allocation take account of the contaminant assimilative capacity of water bodies.
- Policies which, subject to achieving the overarching purpose of the Vision and Strategy, establish allocable and environmental flows from surface water and sustainable yields from groundwater based on a range of factors including matauranga Maori. The policies should also provide for the input of iwi in determining any allocable and environmental flows, and allocation priorities, with respect to the Waikato River Catchment, as well as state how ground and surface water will be allocated. Priority for consideration for allocation reflects the purpose of protecting and enhancing the health and wellbeing of the Waikato River and achieving a net improvement in water quality, and subject to this has been given to water for domestic or municipal supply and replacement of existing water takes.
- Rules reflect the overarching purpose of the Vision and Strategy to restore and protect the health and wellbeing of the Waikato River and achieve a net improvement in water quality, and subject to this, the priority given to domestic or municipal supply and replacement of existing takes in the policies. The rules also ensure that there is not the ability of one abstractor to take the entire allocable flow of a river without adequate consultation with neighbours.
- Chapter 3.3 includes policies which state which matters the Council will have particular regard to in assessing a resource consent application. In particular, these require applications to take or use water from the Waikato River to demonstrate that the proposed activity will not detract from the overarching purpose of restoring and protecting the health and wellbeing of the Waikato River.
Relevant information is made available to resource users
- Water Allocation maps are included in the Plan to illustrate the catchments in which the allocable flows and sustainable yields in Tables 3-5 and 3-6 apply.
The efficient allocation and use of water
- Common review dates for various sub-catchments in the Region are included as is requirements for water metering.
- Chapter 3.3 contains rules restricting permitted takes. The level of permitted takes is capped at the primary allocable flow.
- Rules are included in Chapter 3.4 which permit the transfer of surface water permits and control the transfer of groundwater permits.
- Policy and rules are included in Chapter 3.4 which manage the use of water. In particular rules are included which control the use of water for crop and pasture irrigation in the catchment of the Waikato River from the Karapiro Dam to the Taupo Control gates or in the catchments of Lakes Taharoa, Maratoto, Serpentine (North, South and East), Rotomanuka, Mangahia, Rotongaro, Okowhao, Whangape, Waikare, Kuratau, Mangakaware, Ohinewai, Waahi, and Rotokawau, and Whangamarino wetland, Kopuatai peat dome, wetlands listed in Section 3.7.7 of the Waikato Regional Plan, and the Opuatia wetland.
Clear and equitable management of water shortage conditions
- Policies are included that clearly state what a water shortage is, the priority to apply during water shortages and how restrictions shall be applied.
The policies and rules in this chapter do not relate to the allocation and management of Geothermal Water unless explicitly stated otherwise. The allocation and management of geothermal energy and geothermal water is addressed in Module 7 – Geothermal.
The provisions in Chapter 3.3 do not apply to the taking of water for a dam or diversion where water passes through or over the dam or diversion in the river channel. Such takes are managed by the policies and rules in Chapter 3.6.