We have recently seen the ORC release its draft thoughts on the minimum flow for the Manuherikia River.
Since then, comments have come from both sides of the argument with some saying the flows are not high enough and are proposed to happen too slowly and others saying that they are too high and are happening too quickly.
For what it is worth, here’s my two cents worth.
I believe those who say the levels are too high and are talking of going to the Environment Court should invest their money in engineers, not lawyers.
I cannot see any outcome in future years other than a significant increase in the minimum flow in the river and getting on with finding a way (or ways) to achieve those flows is a far better use of time and money than going to court.
I say similar to those who claim the proposed flow is too low.
I have heard at many meetings people arguing for figures based it seems to me on emotion rather science.
The experts on the Technical Advisory Group have proposed flows they consider will ensure the health of the river and in my view, the science must be relied on, not emotion.
Some say 2040 is too long for the river to wait but my view is that the interim measures that are proposed to be put in place will improve the situation and balance must be found in this highly emotive space.
Frankly, those who say we need to do this now and to hell with the farmers are being unreasonable and are adding fuel to a fire that is not helping the community as a whole find a way forward.
Increased water storage is the most obvious way to meet these flows and the most obvious way of doing that is replacing the near 100-year-old Falls Dam. I believe the CODC in its 2027 LTP needs to ask the populace as a whole whether this work and the huge cost of it should be borne by irrigators alone when the whole community benefits from the money those irrigators bring into the economy?
How we get rid of significant numbers of willows (eventually all of them) and how this is funded needs to be looked at closely, and soon, and the protection of our galaxiids must remain a priority above all else, especially the concerns of those who seek to benefit the invasive pest that has eradicated them in the main stem, being the trout.
What happens to this river is crucial for generations to come, but the task of getting it right falls on our generation.
When the ORC consultation begins, please get informed, then get involved.