Proposed changes to water allocation

The Ruamāhanga Whaitua Committee of the Greater Wellington Regional Council has developed new recommendations for water allocation in the Ruamāhanga catchment.

These include:

  • Restrictions for Category A groundwater takes
  • Raising the minimum flows in the Upper Ruamāhanga and Waipoua Rivers.

Under the proposed Natural Resources Plan Category A those taking groundwater must restrict their take by 50% when the nearby river or stream reaches its minimum flow level.

The Whaitua Committee considers that allowing Category A groundwater users to continue to take water and affect the nearby stream when the flows are low does not provide for instream values and has a negative impact on reliability for other users e.g. users with surface water takes downstream.

Also, the minimum flow level limits must meet the requirement of “avoiding over allocation” of the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management. The committee recommends that in 10 years’ time, Category A groundwater takes must cease take when the nearby river or stream reaches its minimum flow level. The timeframe will enable water users to prepare for the change.

Mitigation recommendations include:

  • Promoting storage (at a range of scales)
  • Ensuring water is used efficiently (in both the urban and rural context)
  • Promoting slowing water down in the catchment to enable greater recharge of aquifers.

To ensure the cease take provisions only apply to the right people, Greater Wellington Regional Council is undertaking further investigations to see if those groundwater takes currently classified as Category A do have a direct connection with a nearby river, stream or lake.

Preliminary results indicate that in some cases an alternative approach to determining the degree of connectivity may be warranted. Once this work is completed it will be consulted on before any changes are implemented.

Read the complete recommendation here