Horizons Regional Council is asking communities to consider how water is allocated in the region via an online survey by 30 July.
Horizons’ current water allocation framework, implemented through the consenting process, aims to protect the region's freshwater species while supplying communities with access to the water they need to survive and thrive.
Horizons’ manager policy and strategy Charlotte Almond says the current allocation framework has been generally fit for purpose to date, but the council has identified it does not fulfil all the requirements outlined in the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management 2020 (NPS-FM).
“A key requirement is that freshwater is managed in a way that gives effect to Te Mana o te Wai, which means prioritising the health and wellbeing of water bodies and freshwater ecosystems over anything else,” says Ms Almond.
“As such, we will need to change our current water allocation framework to give effect to Te Mana o te Wai and the NPS-FM, and have identified some key areas for improvement.
“Those areas include essential takes, reasonable and efficient volumes of water for people and growth, water zones with no water left to allocate, and water takes for hydroelectricity generation – these are what we would like people to share their thoughts on.”
Ms Almond says Horizons is also running a public education campaign on its social media channels to unpack the areas that need to be addressed and help people understand the complexity of water allocation.
“This detail is also on the engagement page at freshwater.horizons.govt.nz so people can provide informed feedback and suggestions via our online survey,” she says.
“The types of things we want people to think about are how we prioritise the health and wellbeing of waterways while ensuring people and animals have access to the water they need, still meet the domestic water needs of communities, provide stock drinking water in zones where there is technically no water available, and enable hydroelectricity generation to keep the lights on.
“The feedback provided will help inform options to analyse what to update in the water allocation framework, which in turn will be part of new freshwater policy that will be included in a revised One Plan.
“We’d like to encourage people to check out Horizons’ social accounts over the coming weeks and follow the link to provide feedback by 30 July. Our staff will also be engaging directly with iwi, hapū, territorial authorities and industry bodies to discuss possible changes that are of relevance to them.”
Horizons has already sought community feedback on visions – bar for Whanganui, which is currently underway until 9 July – and values for freshwater in the region, as well as primary contact sites and outstanding water bodies. This is the next step of the broader Oranga Wai process.
For more information about Horizons’ freshwater policy and regulation work, and to have your say on the water allocation framework, visit https://freshwater.horizons.govt.nz/have-your-say/water-allocation.