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Hurunui Water Management Strategy


									Hurunui Water Management Strategy
(Broad Framework, Content and Work Plan)

Context #1: Canterbury Strategic Water Study (“CSWS”)

      Stage 1 of the CSWS, undertaken by Lincoln Environmental in response to the severe
       drought of 1998 , and published in 2002, concluded that on an annual basis there is
       sufficient water in Canterbury to meet likely future demand and development, but that
       there are seasonal and geographic mis-matches between supply and demand. The study
       concluded that water storage should be considered as part of meeting future demands for
       water to supplement supply in times of low natural flows.

      Under the auspices of the Canterbury Mayoral Forum, Stage 2 of the CSWS
       (commenced 2004) identified potential water storage sites in Canterbury, associated
       hydrological feasibilities, possible areas of benefit and impacts on river flows, using “high
       level desk top” methodologies.

      With ongoing unanimous support from the Canterbury Mayoral Forum, Stage 3
       (commencing early 2006) proceeded to initial evaluations of the major storage options
       from Stage 2, including environmental, social, cultural and economic viewpoints, using
       multi stakeholder groups.

      Stage 3 identified two over arching critical issues, namely land use intensification and
       effects on water quality, and secondly the desirability of maintenance or improvement in
       flow variability in major rivers. Stage 3 concluded that a range of issues, opportunities,
       tradeoffs and concerns would need to be considered and managed for any of the options
       to be taken further. Of all the options considered in Stage 3, the Hurunui option was
       seen to be perhaps one of the more viable from a hydrological viewpoint, albeit not
       without other issues and concerns in the eyes of some stakeholders.

      Stage 4 of the CSWS will involve public communication and consultation processes on
       both the Stage 3 findings, and the wider areas of environmental, social and other
       concerns expected. This stage was foreshadowed by overall media announcements in
       May (under the new heading of the “Canterbury Water Management Strategy”, and
       progresses to a series of regional stakeholder meetings in August.

      Despite the unanimous and energetic support of the Canterbury Mayoral Forum, and the
       fact Canterbury is now at a much more advanced stage of understanding and knowledge
       regarding water and development, the forward direction of these efforts and findings to
       date could be clouded, in my opinion, by:

           -   the non statutory status of the CSWS
           -   the uncertainty of whether or not the CSWS can be incorporated into some form
               of Regional Policy Statement or other prescriptive planning format under the
           -   the political mandate going forward for the CSWS and the Canterbury Water
               Management Strategy beyond the Canterbury Mayoral Forum

Context #2: Hurunui Community Water Development Project (“HWP”)

          The HWP has been developed progressively since 2004 by a working group
           comprising representatives of over 200 Hurunui landowners, Ngai Tahu Property,

           lines company Mainpower, the owner of Eskhead Station (where one of the potential
           storage sites is located), and Enterprise North Canterbury, EDA of Hurunui and
           Waimakariri District Councils.

          Over the period 2004 through 2009, HWP investigative funding will total $1.4 million,
           $610000 of which has been sourced through the Sustainable Farming Fund and the
           balance through private sources of the working groups.

          At a high level, there is a significant level of commonality between the Hurunui
           storage option in the CSWS, and the HWP. Below this level, there are many
           differences in detail, although some of these may be overcome with further
           investigation and review. Both studies identify the total potential irrigable land at over
           70000 ha.

          The HWP has a number of challenges and issues going forward:

           -    they seek a position statement from the Hurunui District Council (not previously
                determined or declared). See also the notes as below.
           -    they have highlighted their concern with the non statutory status of the CSWS,
                and the already evident conflicts between the CSWS and other Environment
                Canterbury actions such as the Natural Regional Resources Plan (NRRP) with
                regard to river flow regimes and associated activity classifications.
           -    The next stage is resource consent application, and the associated substantial
                costs and challenges.

The Wider Scene….a series of background notes

      NZ’s GDP and national prosperity continues to be based on primary production and
       exports from the land. Such exports still account for over 60% of the national GDP
       despite the “fashionable” industries of international tourism, high technology companies

      It would seem that ongoing expansion of NZ’s land based economy (and exports) will be
       critical for NZ’s growth and prosperity (both business and domestic) in the years and
       decades ahead. NZ’s import hungry lifestyle and expectations as a first world nation
       (new vehicles, computers, plasma TV’s, fuel, coffee lattes, and an unending list of other
       consumer goods) necessitates that land based production and exports need to keep up
       with this import demand.

      It is believed that the foregoing point is exacerbated and/or strengthened by

           -    new Free Trade Agreements
           -    the recent news of international relocation of some of NZ’s other, more mobile,
                employment and foreign exchange earning capacity (eg Fisher and Paykel, et al)
           -    the fact that world food production is coming under increased pressure from the
                competing interests and influences of bio-fuel production, climate change, world
                wide population increase, socio economic development and growth in China and
                India, and so on….our planet and global communities need food in ever
                increasing volumes, and NZ’s key role, historically, presently and into the future,
                is as an efficient and sustainable food producer.

      Within this NZ wide context as above, Hurunui’s economy and strength is clearly and
       almost exclusively land based. Even tourism in Hurunui is land based, given the
       attractions of its striking landscapes, the traditional North Canterbury rural character, the
       unique Hanmer Spings Alpine Spa Village, viticulture in the Waipara Valley, and more.

      Extending upon the language of land based, Hurunui is a centre of “grass fed food and
       fibre production” (and wine). “Grass fed” represents a point of marketing difference
       internationally (cf grain fed), and food and fibre references accurately reflect the existing
       and potential variety of land based products, now and with future development. It is not a
       just a case of irrigation for dairying, and the terminology we use, and the wider public
       understanding, need to reflect this.

      Climate change predictions are for increasingly drier conditions in the eastern coastal
       regions, but concurrently greater rainfall intensity in alpine catchments. The Hurunui area
       storage options (both CSWS and HWP) provide potential solutions and development
       opportunities that bridge the gap between these climate scenarios.

      Whilst this paper thus far has emphasized the Hurunui Water Project (and the cross over
       to the CSWS), it should be highlighted that other areas of Hurunui also require special
       mention for future study and investigation, including the Waipara River, and the Cheviot
       and surrounding area. There may also be a view that the CSWS high level Stage 2 and 3
       reviews be “reopened” and extended to include the Waiau River system.

      The risk of “doing nothing” in Hurunui not only puts local communities and their
       associated social and economic well being at risk (witness the effects of severe droughts
       in the late 1990’s and even as recent as early this year), but will put a handbrake on
       development and community prosperity for the wider Canterbury region. Perhaps
       Christchurch and Canterbury need to be reminded of the longstanding, integrated and
       symbiotic relationships between “town” and “country”….our history is built on such reality,
       and so is our collective future.

      Planning for development and growth of land based economies for Districts such as
       Hurunui is important, not only in the wider national and regional scenarios as above, but
       also in terms of expanding sustainably our rating base locally, to ease the affordability of
       environmental responsibilities going forward.

Where to from here?.......Next Steps

      Taking all the foregoing into account, Council should now develop its own Water
       Management Strategy for the Hurunui District.

      It is believed that this Strategy should encompass each of these five key components, in
       no special sequence:

           -   community drinking water quality
           -   water storage and distribution for productive and community development
           -   water conservation and efficiency initiatives for Hurunui application
           -   water research, with regard to land use and production practices
           -   environmental, social and recreational interests

      The 2009-19 Hurunui Long Term Council Community Plan (LTCCP) is seen to be the key
       document, and a robust planning and consultation opportunity. The Hurunui Water
       Management Strategy will be a comprehensive, dedicated and balanced chapter within
       the LTCCP. Long lead strategic development of the LTCCP is commencing concurrently,
       for adoption of the draft LTCCP in February 2009, ahead of consultation and community
       feedback March/April, submission hearings in May, and adoption end June 2009.

          The Hurunui District Council, through this broad Hurunui Water Management Strategy, is
           concurrently signaling its intent and commitment to each and all of the following:

              -   Proceeding in synergy with the CSWS, and its Stage 4 communications

              -   Positioning Hurunui in the context of the strength and wider Canterbury
                  community represented by the Canterbury Mayoral Forum

              -   Indicating to the Hurunui Community Water Development Project (HWP)
                  Council’s position of encouragement for HWP to continue its investigations and
                  development of its forward plan towards resource consent application. Council
                  recognises the substantial financial support committed thus far by those Hurunui
                  landowners and ratepayers who are part of the project.

              -   Acknowledging that we equally “owe” the Cheviot community (and others) a
                  forward plan regarding drinking water quality

              -   Recognizing that early (rather than later) discussion and engagement with other
                  stakeholders and sectors of interest is best

              -   Supporting other investigations and discussions with regard to river flow regimes
                  and development opportunities in areas such as Waipara and Cheviot and
                  elsewhere in Hurunui as required.

              -   Working towards overcoming any possible longer term issues in relation to the
                  potentially conflicting roles and responsibilities between District and Regional
                  Council, by recognizing that the opportunities for resolution of possible issues
                  (should they occur) probably also lie in early engagement.

        With regard to the Hurunui Water Project, Council’s stated position of encouragement for
         the Project’s next steps of funding and further investigations, leading up to possible
         resource consent application, must be seen by all in the context of this balanced and
         comprehensive strategic direction in its entirety.

           Reference is made above to “research” being one of the key components of the overall
            strategy. Through both its involvement and initiatives with Enterprise North Canterbury
            and Environment Canterbury, Hurunui will seek to position itself at the forefront of land
            based research programs, projects and pilots with Landcare Research, Lincoln
            University, MAF, MfE and others, in the interests of both Hurunui locally, and the wider
            context of Canterbury and other NZ rural areas. HDC is already involved in the studies
            underway by the NZ Centre for Ecological Economics, in association with Landcare

Key Principles that underpin the Hurunui Water Management Strategy

          We need to emphasise the clear alignment that exists between the CSWS Stage 3
           storage outcomes (whilst not overlooking that there are issues and concerns to be
           balanced and resolved), and the strength and unanimity of the Canterbury Mayoral
           Forum that has supported the CSWS without exception or deviation

          We will demonstrate and continuously emphasise the principle and position of balance
           that Hurunui is working to throughout the Strategy.

       Within this balance, we should indicate support in principle for the land based production
        potential that the HWP represents for Hurunui, provided the interests of all parties can be
        balanced and managed.

       We will consciously and deliberately draw in all stakeholders, interest groups and bodies
        such as Environment Canterbury, on the principle that in effect there is only one set of
        overall community outcomes that we are all charged to achieve, not separate outcomes
        for different sections of the community.

       The key guiding themes are responsible and sustainable growth and development whilst
        protecting natural and traditional values, and maximum support and facilitation for land
        based research and scientific advances, in areas such as water use efficiency, landcare
        practices, water conservation by rural and urban residents, nitrate management, etc.

       Language is important within the strategy; words and phrases such as “grass fed food
        and fibre production”, “balance”, a “single set of community outcomes” are critically
        important, not for semantic reasons, but because these phrases actually encapsulate the
        key principles.

Garry Jackson
Hurunui District

July 31, 2008


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