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					Before a Hearings Panel of the Canterbury Regional Council

Under              Resource Management Act 1991

In the matter      of applications for Regional Council Resource Consents to take and
                   use water in the Upper Waitaki River Catchments

1.           My full name is Barry Shepherd.        I am a retired farmer and Engineer from
             Omarama currently Chairman of the Upper Waitaki Applicants Group (“UWAG”). I
             am authorized to give this evidence to this hearing

             Personal involvement in Irrigation

2.           I am personally involved in these hearings as an applicant for a renewal consent
             for an existing dairy farm listed under Ellis-Lea Farms.

3.           In addition I was Chairman of Benmore Irrigation through the construction phase
             and I am responsible to the Directors for its management.

4.           Happily the Benmore Irrigation is not before this hearing – its consent runs until
             2034 – but some aspects of this consent and overall operation may be of
             interest to the Committee.

5.           Benmore Irrigation’s take is for 51.6Mm³/annum at a maximum rate of 4,000 l/s
             with the right to irrigate 4,000 hectares within a command area of approximately
             20,000 hectares – which is physically confined within the Benmore Valley
             between the Ohau and Ahuriri Rivers.

6.           It currently irrigates a total of 3,700 hectares with 30 centre pivots, a small
             amount of border dyke and is fully telemetered in terms of its operation. The
             irrigation is for currently 2 but increasing to 3 dairying units and for 2 major small
             seed operations. The balance of irrigation is for traditional sheep and beef

7.           Benmore voluntarily monitors a number of key parameters in addition to the
             Ecan requirements for water testing in the Willowburn and Wairepo Streams in a
             number of key sites when the scheme enters and leaves certain properties.
             Benmore is a partner in the Living Streams Programme.

8.           These parameters focus on N and P levels, on turbidity and conductivity. In my
             view these measures, which are in part voluntarily imposed in our case, are
             workable and able to be independently tested – for our own knowledge on the
             health of the receiving environment.

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9.           In addition nutrient budgets are an essential tool for all of the farms within the
             Benmore Irrigation group – effectively again to manage nutrient applications
             from both an environmental and economic perspective.

10.          I say this only to demonstrate the degree to which farming in the area has had to
             move up an notch to understand the reasons for monitoring and the process of
             collection and evaluation of information - and I have no issues that given initial
             teething difficulties that farmers are fully able to have some control over their
             resource consent obligations on farm.

             UWAG Issues

11.          The UWAG Group has been set up by a group of the smaller Applicants for
             Irrigation water in the Upper Waitaki Catchment with approximately 70 different
             consents coming before this hearing. Not all of these consents are water take
             consents – a number of ancillary consents from Ecan are also being applied for –
             but all with the purpose of being able to implement a groundwater or surface
             water take within the MacKenzie catchment.

12.          Of the take consents approximately ¼ are renewals of consents, which in some
             cases originated in the 1920’s and have been up to 11 years in the renewal
             process. The remainder are either a combination of new takes and renewals or
             completely new irrigation consents. For these new elements the M.l.C./Meridian
             Agreement applies so that individual farmers are required to hold MIC shares to
             support their new water requirement. Approval from Meridian comes from the
             share allocation process.

             Formation of UWAG

13.          UWAG was formed approximately one year ago by the need for farmers to group
             together to assist with the hearings process associated with Upper Waitaki

14.          Many of us had observed the process relating to Lower Waitaki consent hearings
             and quickly realized that some form of common sharing of witnesses would be
             beneficial all round.

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15.          It was decided to incorporate UWAG – not only for the purposes of this hearing –
             but also in recognition that there are potentially many more renewals in this
             catchment to come and new applications to the extent that this land does not
             take up all of the additional land contemplated by the Waitaki Allocation Board.

16.          Our initial experiences are ones of frustration and a financially crippling
             application process – which is being dealt with on a worst case scenario. The
             time delays associated with the processing of renewals for example go back to
             December 1998. Not only has this left us with little ability to plan for our farming
             future – but also the uncertainty of the renewal process and costs has affected
             us all in the basin – and some to a very significant degree.

17.          UWAG was not formed with the basis of taking over the applications. They
             continue to rest with the original consent applicants and it is not intended that
             UWAG will be a holder of consents or an administrator – employing managers for
             monitoring purposes. There is already a Trust set up for that purpose.

18.          I have attached the objects of UWAG to this evidence. In general terms UWAG is
             the vehicle for funding the joint consent process and obtaining the consultancy
             advice needed to have the consents granted at the end of the day.

19.          There is a promotional advocacy role for UWAG as well, to the extent that in the
             future we may need to deal with provisions which affect the various plans which
             affect irrigation generally in the MacKenzie.

20.          Most importantly it has set up a forum for farmers to liaise and discuss irrigation
             issues within the Basin.

21.          There are a couple of the objectives which I do want to stress before this hearing.
             Firstly some member applicants of UWAG have seen the farming properties pass
             down through many generations of one family. The objectives contemplate that
             these farms should be able to carry on “the long term operations” of the farming
             properties. UWAG is not set up for short term gains. Members of UWAG want
             good water quality in the basin in the same manner as they wish to protect their
             properties from soil loss, or weed and pest issues.

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22.          In our view irrigation needs to have a long term focus. There need to provide a
             good measure of long term certainty for the farmers – this is not a process that
             we wish to repeat regularly or can afford.

23.          Secondly the emphasis in Objective 4.1.2 is for farmers to be able to carry on
             their existing operations. The implication is that irrigation has already been an
             integral part of most high country runs and this is certainly the case of a lot of the
             applicants before you. The loss of this resource to farmers would be significant
             not only in economic terms but would also affect, in a very significant way, the
             fine balance that is needed to ensure that the whole environment is managed
             sustainably for us all to enjoy.

24.          4.1.2 also contemplates that there should also be room for development of
             properties within the basin. Clearly it is essential for MacKenzie farmers to be
             able to diversify and develop properties. The change from this area being known
             primarily known for its wool and fibre production to a meat producing and
             cropping area are examples. However the rules are carefully drawn so that the
             development is for “new uses suitable to the MacKenzie district”.         We do not
             want to “mess up our back yard” and UWAG’s interest is in protecting the
             land/water/ and air quality and the landscape values – put simply we all enjoy
             them and that is why we live there.

             Preparation for this hearing

25.          Having formed the Society, joining UWAG has been a voluntary process. Some
             applicants, principally the very large applicants before this hearing have formed
             their own networks for conducting these hearings. However for the balance
             UWAG has generally gained support – to the extent that there are about two
             applicants who have not joined – or are not already represented – and these are
             smaller applicants.

26.          Costs are apportioned out on an agreed formula – and clearly our interest is in
             making sure that these hearings are kept as short as possible.

27.          At any time in the process we would be happy for the Commissioners to inspect
             the existing and proposed operations – and we suggest that this will offer you a
             degree of comfort as the extent that irrigation is integrated in to a whole farm

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             operation – rather than producing dramatic changes in the scale and extent of
             many UWAG members farms.

             How we operate

28.          The Group is a fully registered Incorporated Society managed by a Committee of
             8, two of whom are Non Applicants in this hearing but major Irrigators in the
             Upper Waitaki. All the Committee have extensive Irrigation and Community
             experience and service. The U.W.A.G. Group has assisted farmers to understand
             the application process, provide as much of the generic information as possible
             in the most economic, practical and common manner and draw together a
             credible team of experts to explain the requirements laid down relating them to
             the Irrigation aspirations of farmers across this diverse area of land.

29.          Critical to the Irrigation aspirations of the Applicants is the protection of the
             unique environment of the Upper Waitaki in which U.W.A.G. members and their
             families live, work and play, in some cases for several generations. To this effect
             members have joined the Mackenzie Water Research Ltd. Water quality study to
             ensure the Environmental safety of their District as well as taking a common
             sense and practical approach to their Irrigation proposals.

30.          The Structure of U.W.A.G. lends itself well to the future of Irrigation in the Upper
             Waitaki Catchment as further renewals and new Applications come up the group
             has the expertise to advise applicants of the most practical and economic path
             to follow.

31.          This also assists the Authorities to provide a better and more economic
             application of the Rules. UWAG has had enquiries from both prospective and
             reapplying applications for consent and will assist any future applications.

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4.           Objects of Society
4.1          The primary objective of the Society is to provide an entity by which all the
             current Members obtain resource consents to take water from the Upper Waitaki
             Catchment to be used for irrigation purposes. Along with this primary objective
             the Society also has the following objectives:

             4.1.1        To provide a vehicle for Members to obtain expert opinion, consultancy
                          advice, legal representation and any other forms of advice, opinions or
                          representations as are necessary in the procurement of resource
                          consents to take water in the Upper Waitaki Catchment Area.

             4.1.2        To promote, protect and represent the collective interests of the
                          Members and others who are looking to continue to carry on their
                          existing farming operations as well as allowing for the development of
                          the Members’ properties for new uses suitable to the McKenzie
                          District/Upper Waitaki.

             4.1.3        To provide consistency of approach to the obtaining of water rights or
                          other resource consents necessary for the long term operations of the
                          farming properties owned by Members and to co-ordinate any hearing
                          process so that there is a sharing of expert witnesses, consultants and
                          legal representation.

             4.1.4        To represent the interests of Members on changes or proposed changes
                          to the Waitaki or McKenzie District Plans or the Canterbury Regional
                          Council Natural Resources Regional Plan either now or in the future.

             4.1.5        To provide an ongoing role for the use of Members for ongoing matters
                          or consent applications and hearings to be heard or considered by any
                          of the Waitaki District Council, McKenzie District Council and/or the
                          Canterbury Regional Council and particularly so where such consents or
                          plan changes involve catchment wide issues affecting the farming

             4.1.6        To keep the Society’s Members regularly informed on developments in
                          all of the matters listed in these rules and through the Committee
                          appointed under rule 5, to consult with them on the development of
                          Upper Waitaki water resource;

             4.1.7        To do, with the approval of the Committee, such other things as are
                          collectively beneficial to the Members; and

             4.1.8        To do anything necessary or helpful to the above purposes.

4.2          Pecuniary gain is not an object of the Society.

evidence barry shepherd.doc                                                                     6
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