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Minimum flow recommended for Lindis catchment

Otago Regional Council has accepted commissioners’ recommendations that a minimum flow of 900 litres/second (surface water) be set for the Lindis River catchment to apply from the beginning of October until the end of May every year.

The decision is part of a wider plan change (5A) which considers surface water, groundwater, catchment boundaries and water allocation volumes in the area.

The decision noted that the recommended amendment was the most appropriate for achieving the Resource Management Act’s purpose of promoting the sustainable management of natural and physical resources, as well as the objectives of the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management, and the Otago Water Plan, which it is proposed the new minimum flow forms part of.

The Lindis River was historically over-allocated and the NPSFM requires that this over-allocation be addressed.

The committee accepted a minimum flow of 900 l/s would:

  • protect the river’s instream values
  • enhance the river’s role as an important spawning and rearing tributary of the nationally important Lake Dunstan and Upper Clutha fisheries
  • encourage a co-operative approach to water use
  • allow people to value and enjoy a healthy and continually flowing river that is connected to the Clutha River/Matau-Au
  • preserve and protect the cultural relationship Ngai Tahu has with the river catchment.

The decision acknowledged there would be economic and social costs for irrigators through the reduced availability of water and increased competition between water users during summer low flow periods.

However, the economic costs could be offset through the use of more reliable alternative water sources, the establishment of water storage, and the conversion to more efficient irrigation and water supply infrastructure.

Council also accepted the recommendation to increase to the primary allocation limit proposed in the plan change from 1000 l/s to 1200 l/s. They said this would maintain the local community's social and economic well-being by:

  • providing sufficient water for irrigators who currently take water from the Lindis River and who don't have access to an alternative source to irrigate their land efficiently.
  • provide existing water permit holders with greater certainty of supply when they came to renew their water consent or deemed permit.

The decision also removes the proposed restriction in the water plan on taking water for irrigation from the Lower Tarras and Bendigo aquifers, because there was no evidence that this extraction for winter irrigation compromised existing hydro-generation activities on the Clutha River. 

ORC director policy, planning, and resource management Fraser McRae said the commissioners had drafted their recommendations following an extensive consultative process, in which the public had played an active part, through preparing and speaking to their submissions.

For more information please contact:

Fraser McRae
Director policy, planning and resource management
ORC
Ph 0800 474082 or 0274 900903