LAND & WATER REGIONAL PLAN MADE PARTIALLY OPERATIVE
On the 1 September 2015 ECan made most parts of the Land & Water Regional Plan (LWRP) operative. They also revoked Chapters 4 (water quality), 7 (wetlands) and 8 (soil conservation) of the NRRP (Natural Resources Regional Plan), but not Chapter 5 that deals with water quantity (which will be revoked once all appeals on the LWRP are settled).
In relation to water permit trading, the transfer of water permits is a restricted discretionary activity under Rule 5.133, as discussed in previous newsletters. If the transfer doesn’t comply with one or more of the conditions of this rule, it becomes a non-complying activity under Rule 5.134. ECan tends to notify such applications.
While Rule 5.133 represents what HydroTrader considers to be a balanced approach to trading, very real barriers to trading are embedded within the Variations that have been notified (now all called Plan Changes).
For example, in Plan Change 1 (PC1) covering the Selwyn-Te Waihora catchment, 50% of the allocation must be surrendered upon transfer, while in Plan Change 2 (PC2) covering the area between the Rakaia and Rangitata Rivers, transfers within the Valetta Groundwater Zone are prohibited.
So while PC1 & PC2 aren’t operative yet, ECan will almost certainly notify any application that doesn’t fully comply with their transfer rules. Furthermore, they’re guaranteed to recommend that such applications be declined, due to the heavy legal “weighting” they give all Plan Changes.
Once Plan Changes becomes operative, their rules will automatically take precedence over the general rules of the LWRP. For example, once PC1 is operative, Rule 11.5.37 will govern all water permit transfers within the Selwyn – Te Waihora catchment, while Rule 5.133 will continue to apply in the rest of Canterbury (excluding the Waitaki catchment).
To further complicate matters, Plan Change 4 has just been notified (27 August 2015), which makes corrections and minor amendments to many provisions of the LWRP. Rule 5.133(4)(c)(ii) has been amended to include reference to any stream depletion limits in the various catchment plans, such as the Waimakariri River Regional Plan, and the Opihi River Regional Plan.
LEASING GROUNDWATER ALLOCATIONS IN THE SELWYN – WAIMAKARIRI AND RAKAIA – SELWYN GROUNDWATER ZONES
We’ve had a few enquiries recently about leasing water allocations short-term in these two groundwater zones.
Last season ECan were very accommodating of such transfers as the current drought began to bite. However now that decisions have been released on PC1 (Selwyn-Te Waihora catchment), this option has essentially been shut-down.
This is because PC1 requires 50% of the allocation of all transfers, whether permanent or temporary, to be surrendered. Once an allocation is surrendered it can’t be returned upon expiry of the lease.
While leases in other over-allocated zones may be feasible under Rule 5.133, ECan’s default position is that a percentage of water commensurate with the level of over-allocation will be surrendered in all cases (i.e. 15% will be surrendered in a groundwater zone that is 115% over-allocated).
However in fully allocated groundwater zones (i.e. those exactly 100% allocated), such as the Christchurch-West Melton and Little Rakaia Zones, leasing is still feasible.
GROUNDWATER ALLOCATION WANTED IN THE SELWYN-WAIMAKARIRI GROUNDWATER ZONE
Demand is again beginning to grow in this Zone. If you have any spare groundwater allocation, especially amounts over 100,000m3/year, please give us a call and we’ll let you know how much it’s worth, as well as list it for sale on our website – all for free!
SURFACE WATER & GROUNDWATER ALLOCATION WANTED IN THE WAIPARA CATCHMENT
Any amount of water is of interest in this catchment.
MAYFIELD – HINDS GROUNDWATER ZONE TURNS RED
When Variation 2 (now Plan Change 2) of the LWRP was notified in September 2014, the allocation limit of the Mayfield – Hinds Groundwater Allocation Zone (Mayfield – Hinds Zone) was reduced from 148 to 122.25 million m3/year.
Now that the amount of water allocated within a groundwater zone is determined by adding up 100% of the actual or estimated annual volumes of each groundwater permit, less any contribution from hydraulically connected surface water (as per Schedule 13, LWRP), rather than 90% as it was under the NRRP, the level of allocation has increased across all groundwater zones.
Allocation within the Mayfield-Hinds Zone is now considered to add up to 126.1 million m3/year, making the zone 103% over-allocated.
So while applications for new water in this zone can still be lodged until PC2 is made operative, such applications will almost certainly be notified, with a recommendation that they be declined.
The good news is that HydroTrader has over 1 million m3/year available for sale, so if you have plans to develop new, or expand existing, areas of irrigation, give us a call now!
WATER VALUE SURVEY
Alex Kravchenko, a PhD student at Waikato University, is currently researching whether charging for irrigation water during droughts is a better strategy than full or partial bans, and he needs more irrigators to participate.
Express your views (confidentially) on this potentially policy influencing research by completing a 10-15 minute survey, and also go in the draw in win an iPad mini!
If you would like to know more about any of the above news items, your options for trading water permit allocations, or a formal valuation of your water permit, simply contact Warwick Pascoe via phone or e-mail.
PO Box 3132
0508 HYDROTRADER (0508 493768)