Water Plan discussion described as positive

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Fourteen community members attended a public talk on residual flow rates in Roxburgh last Monday, marking the first of several talks by the Otago Regional Council to clarify proposed changes to the Water Plan.

Residual flow is the amount of water left in a stream at the point where water is taken and typically applies to tributary systems.

The Water Plan came into effect in 2004 and changes regarding residual flow rates were proposed in February this year.

Speaking at the event, Otago Regional Council deputy chairwoman Gretchen Robertson said the talks were about clarifying proposed changes to the Water Plan and making the process more efficient and transparent.

There had been confusion about the changes and the application process itself, she said, which resulted in drawn-out processes.

The talk included presentations about issues with the Water Plan and how the proposed changes would benefit applicants, before participants worked in groups to list what they thought needed clarification or improvement.

As it stands, under the plan, every applicant is required to measure residual flow rate at the point the water is taken, which may be impractical due to safety concerns.

The current laws also make it difficult for groups to apply for residual flows where there may be multiple points of take.

Desired changes ranged from the need for greater flexibility to the process and a suitable method to measure flow rates to be adapted depending on the situation.

Discussions also called for the plan to consider the water source the tributary stemmed from and to take into account seasonal flow rates.

The need to prioritise native fish over introduced species was also raised.

Cr Robertson said the discussion was positive and would help the council make changes to the plan. She encouraged anyone with an interest to make a submission.

“Everyone’s affected by water.”

Submissions close on August 30.