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Further unhappiness over TDC's water decision

February 10th, 2010
By David Armstrong

Motueka has one of the best water supplies anywhere in New Zealand, but arguments over how to keep it that way and how to share it around continue to trouble the Motueka Community Board.

A report presented to the board's first 2010 meeting by Board chairman David Ogilvie last night included a letter from Tasman District Council's Steve Markham, manager of policy, outlining Council's decision on the Board's submission last tear to the Water Allocation Review for Motueka area.

David was disappointed to note that "there have been only very minor changes to the Council's proposals arising from our submission, principally allowing existing private bores to be re-drilled in the same position."

He noted that TDC will still not be providing any opportunity for residents within 500 metres of the Central Plains Subzone - around the Atkins Road / Parker Street area - to be compensated for the adverse drawdown effect on their water supply. The more water removed to distribute to areas down the coast as far as Mapua, the less the water pressure expected within the subzone. This could also have significant impacts on residences west of High Street and north of the High School.

David was also surprised by the Council's acknowledgement that in reaching its decisions there was no account taken of climate change predictions and / or of river bed degradation.

"It's ironic that the Council's Building Permit requirements are now subject to a raised floor level because of the predicted sea level rise by 2100, but they are not making other allowances for climate change predictions," he said. "The likelihood of increased droughts, and therefore much lower river flows, the sea rise tidal effect on the Motueka River, and the sensitive Hau Zone are obvious factors for the Council to consider in reviewing the Water Allocation in the Motueka area."

The third factor leading to disappointment in TDC's response, he said, is that progressive lowering of the river bed and its consequent lowering of the aquifer has not been considered in the Council's decision.

"Council's own reports demonstrate that the river bed has degraded by at least 0.6 metres over a 50 year period. The change in river flows will significantly affect Motueka's water supply. There seems to be a single-minded determination by the Council to transport considerable quantities of water from the Motueka aquifer to the Coastal Tasman areas. The long-term (50 years) impact on Motueka and environs has the potential to be significant and serious. "

The Board is to decide if it will appeal TDC's decision - it has only one further week in which to do so.

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