The protection status by way of the long-standing Water Conservation Order (WCO) for the Rakaia River is being eroded by efforts by Trustpower and Environment Canterbury says the New Zealand Federation of Freshwater Anglers (NZFFA).
Federation president Dr Peter Trolove said WCOs were akin to a National Park status preserving public property for the public interest. But that protection status is being undermined.
“The situation is now an unresolved shambles with Trustpower “giving the bird” to the water harvesting formula proscribed in the Rakaia NWCO,” he said. “Meanwhile Ecan is desperately searching for a way out of its statutory duty to give effect to the Rakaia WCO.”
The shambles began at a 2012 Ecan managed hearing which determined that the Rakaia River NWCO 1988 should be amended to enable the Lake Coleridge Project (LCP) which involved storing water in Lake Coleridge in times of high flow to be later sold to contracted irrigation schemes by Trustpower based on evidence provided by Trustpower, accepted by three “Independent Commissioners”, that the effects of the LCP would be minor or less than minor.
The detail of the water harvesting protocol was made very clear at the Hearing and was subsequently passed into law – The Rakaia River WCO 1988 Amended 2013.
Ecan accepted the water harvesting formula as did the Minister for the Environment at that time.
Dr Trolove submitted against the LCP. He carried out his own approximate calculations based on historical Ecan Rakaia River flow data and found in some years there would not be sufficient natural flows to store adequate volumes of water to supply the 100,000 ha of new irrigation if the proposed water storage formula was complied with.
It appeared Trustpower very soon learned that the 32 km2 Lake Coleridge could not store sufficient water even if there was enough excess flow to be harvested due to Lake Coleridge only having a maximum of 3 metres depth that was accessible for abstraction I.e. water could not be accessed below 3 metres and above this level water simply flowed back out the head of the lake.
Trustpower responded by creating “virtual storage” by claiming the total volume of Lake Coleridge would be used for storage. He described the corporate’s response has seriously flawed.
“This of course is utter nonsense which Ecan now appear to be attempting to validate,” he said. “A competent Ecan hydrologist (Wilco Terink) was asked to make his two and a half year investigation “fit” the flawed model. Unfortunately for Ecan he showed admirable personal integrity and resigned instead,” said Dr Trolove.
He said ECan heads are now generating further nonsense in a failing attempt to hide their reluctance and inability to perform their role under the RMA 1991.
Groups like the NZFFA, NZ Salmon Anglers and others find the moves irresponsible and unacceptable.
Contact: Dr. Peter Trolove (029) 779 0295 (03) 324 2779
<c> Dr. Peter Trolove – Undermining of WCO “irresponsible and unacceptable”
Rivers are essential as they are nature’s blessings for humanity. But they are being polluted or exploited on a very large scale. Trustpower re aided and abetted by ECAN. ECAN councillors were elected to look after rivers. Staff are paid from the public purse to look after rivers.
But corporates are cunning. They seek ways to circumvent protection and proper management for their own selfish profit.
The NZ Federation of Freshwater Anglers must continue its “whistle blowing” advocacy drawing attention to shortsighted exploitation as in the case of Coleridge.
Don’t depend on central government politicians.
Where is the Minister for the Environment David Parker? Where is the Department of Conservation? (Rivers are indigenous fish habitat after all) Where is the Minister of Conservation Kiri Allen? What is ECAN doing?
All public servants, AWOL.
Water is arguably the most precious resource on Earth and yet it’s often valued only in monetary terms and then managed extremely poorly as profits and greed dictates use or rather exploitation. This Coleridge case is a prime example. Water Conservation Orders (WCO) are tantamount to the sacred status of Natonal Parks. For the People and not for Petty Profit.
The tradeable value of water rights overseas such as in California and listing on the Wall Street stock exchange has raised serious issues due to the negative influence it has on the protection of the human right to water. Financially valuing water is the response of the free market corporates to a scarce good which is subject to the ups and downs in availability (and prices )mainly due to the climate crisis and any increase in demand. It leads to financial speculation and this must be avoided.
Tradeable water rights a big NO!
Trustpower you have a bad mark on trying to exploit public rivers, e.g West Coast’s Arnold River, Marlborough’s Wairau Ruver.
Keep your greedy hands off.
ECan and Minster (David Parker) for the Environment, stop sitting on your hands.
The Federation of Freshwater Anglers must be commended for its splendid work on excessive nitrate levels in Canterbury Rivers and streams and for its vigilant watch dog role – in this case exposing Trustpower, ECan over the Coleridge debacle and the weakening of protective Water Conservation Orders.
Your work is very appreciated!
Notably central government is silent. What happened to Labour’s 2017 promise to restore river quality and look after the water resource? What of the National Key government’s state grab of ECan and expanding nitrate-producing corporate dairying in Mackenzie Basin and Canterbury Plains?
Who should one vote for in the 2023 election?
I have twice emailed David Parker asking why four Southland rivers were reported in media as having blue-green algae (cyanobacteria).
To date, I have only received an acknowledgement for sending the message. He must be a very busy man.
But at least Labour said they would clean up the rivers. Good intentions and all that …