Zone committee considers water management and biodiversity options.

The Hurunui-Waiau Zone Committee has chosen a number of Immediate Steps biodiversity projects for the coming year and is working to develop a position on water management and possible storage options for its zone.

The Committee held its second meeting on Monday 16 August which included a briefing by Environment Canterbury Commissioner Peter Skelton.

The Committee has around $100,000 in Immediate Steps funding and selected a number of projects for funding: weed control at Moelean swamp; fencing and planting of lowland streams near Balmoral Forest and in QEII covenanted areas in coastal Conway and the Waipara winery area; fencing of Hurunui River mouth; and fencing of wetland margins of two high country lakes near Lake Sumner.

In addition the Committee agreed a five-year programme of the broad areas for its Immediate Steps work.

Stakeholders and landowners will be consulted early next year to identify priority projects for funding in 2011-12.

Commissioner Peter Skelton told the committee members they had a crucial role to play in the decisions that needed to be made on the management of the Hurunui and Waiau rivers.

 “I asked the committee to develop over the next 12 months a consensus position on water storage options in the Hurunui-Waiau Zone so they can provide input to the Regional Committee.”

Other areas the committee were briefed on included: Flow and water allocation plans for the Hurunui and Waiau Rivers.

Community Advisory Groups, through discussion and feedback at a series of meetings have come (or are very close) to a preferred position on the minimum flow and flow allocation regime for both rivers.

The Waiau River Community Advisory Group will meet next month to agree a final position on the Waiau River flow plan.

Meetings will be held from October on the Hurunui River flow plan and will include submitters, Iwi and stakeholders.

The Zone Committee was briefed by one of the authors of the North Canterbury Storage Options (prepared by Riley Consultants) which provides an assessment of long-term water needs for North Canterbury.

 It takes into account the potential for water storage (either on farm or from new infrastructure) and/or water transfer between catchments, integrated with water-use efficiency improvements, as well as the potential to use groundwater for irrigation.

The main findings:

The Hurunui-Waiau Zone Committee has scheduled meetings every three weeks. The next two public meetings are:

 Monday 6 September in Culverden and  27 September in Hawarden.