22 Oct 2008

More tests required before water rights take effect

12:40 pm on 22 October 2008

Land holders in central Canterbury who have gained new consents to take ground-water for irrigating dairy farms and crops will have to wait on the outcome of further testing before they get access to the water.

A consents panel acting on behalf of Canterbury Regional Council has granted more than 40 additional consents for water in the Selwyn-Waimakariri zone.

That was against the recommendation of the council which considers ground water reserves available in that area are already fully allocated.

It mirrors an earlier decision in the neighbouring Selwyn-Rakaia zone, where additional consents were also granted against the wishes of the regional council.

But those gaining the water rights may find it to be a mixed blessing.

Before they get to take them up, the holders have to show that they won't damage the water reserves or the rights of other users by causing leakage from other underground aquifers.

Regional council chief executive, Bryan Jenkins says the outlook for those new consent holders is not good if early results of geology tests in the Selwyn - Rakaia zone are any indication.

Dr Jenkins says new consent holders would be extremely limited in the water they could take for irrigation if the early tests from Selwyn - Rakaia are confirmed.

Halt urged

Most of the consents are for new water use, but some are to extend existing rights.

The applicants included a seed company, mushroom and chicken producers individual farmers and the Selwyn Plantation Board.

The Green Party says there should be a halt to issuing any more water rights in at-risk catchments in Canterbury.