Aupouri aquifer avocado orchard consents granted

Independent commissioners have granted a group of 17 Far North avocado growers resource consent to collectively take more than two million cubic metres of water a year from the Aupouri aquifer.

Collectively, the 17 new consents will allow for a total of 2,060,655 cu m to be taken annually across three ‘aquifer management sub-units’; Waiparera (1,164,325 cu m), Motutangi (566,960 cu m) and Houhora (329,370).

The largest single allocation of 418,000 cu m goes to an applicant in the Motutangi zone, while the two smallest – both 14,900 cu m – are in the Waiparera and Houhora zones.

The 17 applicants – collectively referred to as the Motutangi-Waiharara Water Users Group – had been seeking permission to between them take almost 2.5 million cu m annually from a deep shell bed layer of the aquifer to irrigate their avocado orchards.

The applications were notified on a limited basis to more than 1000 owners/occupiers of adjacent properties in late October last year, with 57 submissions received; 42 opposed, eight in support and seven neutral.

Essentially, opponents’ concerns fell into eight broad categories; the volume of the proposed water take, its effect on existing bores, water quality, ecological, salt water intrusion, lack of consultation, inadequacy of assessment and monitoring and cultural issues.

The commissioners’ decision is now subject to appeal for 15 working days.

Their full decision – including a raft of conditions – is available online

Read the full press release