Waikato farmers worry about an increased allocation of water to supply Auckland's urban needs

Waikato farmers worry about an increased allocation of water to supply Auckland's urban needs

Content supplied by Federated Farmers

Federated Farmers is concerned that the Auckland Watercare firm’s application to take water from the Waikato will see lost opportunities for economic growth in the Waikato.

“This part of the Waikato River is already nearly full allocated with water takes, at 10 percent of its one in 5 year low flow (Q5), so if this application is approved, Waikato ratepayers lose out,” says James Houghton, Federated Farmers provincial president for Waikato.

“Watercare are asking for a further 200,000 cubic meters a day on top of the 150,000 they already take, to supply a city that doesn’t pay rates in the Waikato."

"Our council needs to be thinking about the long game here and what benefits there are in giving away Waikato’s resources, which are needed to maintain and build Waikato’s economy. If this consent proceeds under the current rules it is going to strangulate Waikato’s ability to grow."

“Right now, under the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management, we are meant to be sitting down with our regional councils and collaborating on setting values and objectives for our local waterways."

"Yet before we have had the chance, a significant percentage of our resource could be supplied to another region entirely."

“To properly understand the impact this take would have on the local economy and environment, the council need to do the ground work before giving away our resources. Under variation 6 in the District Plan, the council would have to take water away from its ratepayers to supply Auckland the extra 20 percent of the current take it is asking for."

“Auckland has long been facing resourcing and infrastructure issues due to its growing population, but why should Waikato lose out as a result."

"If Auckland is expected to grow by 800,000 people in the next 30 years they need to come up with a long term and sustainable option rather than leaning on their neighbours,” concluded Mr Houghton

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And there you have it folks, the reason why Auckland growth needs curtailing

Yeah people should be forced to settle in Raglan.  That will solve our water issues as we all know people in Raglan don't shower.
Seriously, we could learn a thing or two from the Ozzies about water efficiency.  With a growing cow and human population we need to get smarter with our water usage, auckland should be mandating efficient shower heads on new-builds etc etc.

No - don't tell me we have limits to growth?
Who'da thunk?
Hughey will be shattered.

... easy solution ... user pays ... install water meters in every Auckland private home and in every business premises ....
If you pay for it , you'll respect it and be careful ...
.... if it's free , no one gives a flying f**k !

err ... every Auckland household and every Auckland business already has individual water metering, and we pay Watercare for water used and wastewater returned to their system.

... you do ? .... poor buggers ! .... meebee you're not paying enough then .... I'll lobby Teflon Len to raise the rates on water until you reach 100 on the " Pong-O-Meter " .... the point where you can't get on buses without retching from the smell of the fellow passengers' B.O.

David, you are not paying for water per se, but for the infrastructure: Watercare’s wastewater tariff structure is designed to provide sufficient income to cover the cost of providing the wastewater service –collection and treatment. 
This is no different to farmers 'paying' for water by funding their own bores and infrastructure.


In Huntly they say.  "Flush twice.  Auckland needs it".  Thoughtful that.

Given that Watercare exceeded their consent for water take last summer, without bringing in water restrictions, and weren't prosecuted for it, then no, they should not be given an increase in their consent. http://www.nzherald.co.nz/aucklander/news/article.cfm?c_id=1503378&objec...
"If Auckland is expected to grow by 800,000 people in the next 30 years they need to come up with a long term and sustainable option rather than leaning on their neighbours,”  Agree entirely Mr Houghton.  Some more comment here:

Now, if there wuz a price per cubic metre on water, the various competing users could sort themselves out on the basis that the highest-value-add users, won the rights by bidding the most.  And if them rights were tradeable, the holders could sell off the occasional surpluses, or buy in more in tight times.
Ya could even insist, as part of the bidding process, in all the many and various externalities being a) listed and b) priced in.  Thus ensuring ya didn't inadvertently sell off some water to an Undesirable Use.  Or User.
Nah, it'd never work.
The Water Wallahs at the various Regional Councils, why, They Know Best.

“This part of the Waikato River is already nearly full allocated with water takes, at 10 percent of its one in 5 year low flow
So even at low flow drought conditions, 90% of the water goes out to sea, or do I misunderstand the point? Am far from an expert, but is 90% a magic number. If in a drought, this number got down to 85%, would that be a catastrophe? Are Waikato initiatives really being stopped because of a shortage of water? I suspect not. Or do Waikato just wish to charge Aucklanders for water that runs through their territory? Maybe then the Taupo District Council can charge Waikato people for the water, as presumably most of it came from Taupo in the first place?

Hey, I used the Turangi Public Loos a while back.  Where's My Munny?

seems like the easiest option would be to extend the Auckland regional boundry to enclude Tuakau which is where the water is taken from.
Federated Farmers can go jump a merry song somewhere else  as the eccology of the Waikato River is constantly put at risk with the high levels of Nitrogen which there members are incouraged to use.
What is the cost of NZ having poluted riverways? The Green Party says that the river has high levels of Nitrogen and E.coli, and they list it as the No.1 offender in NZ.
Why don't Federated Farmers cost the value of pollution cleanup and charge their members for the cost to put it right.

e-coli: It is safe to swim upstream of Hamilton city, but levels of Escherichia coli ('E. coli') bacteria (an indicator of health risk) in the city reaches and downstream were often above the safe level for swimming. ........  Higher bacteria levels in the lower river are the result of the combined discharges from farm and stormwater runoff, farm dairies and sewage treatment plants. 
Arsenic:Levels of arsenic, much of which comes from the Wairakei Power Station, almost never meet the health standard, making the water unsafe for drinking unless treated

CO, who uses the most water, Auckland or Landcorps dairy units? seriously, id like to know.

Aj use it. or use it productively? The water rights for the Central Plateau are owned by Wairakei Pastoral - which is owned by Aucklanders, so perhaps they could on sell some of their rights to Auckland City. ;-)
Last time I went past  those farms they didn't have irrigation, but according to the Landcorp Annual Report they have now secured water for irrigation. Given the comment in the link I posted further up about arsenic levels in the Waikato River, you have to wonder what the limit for arsenic is for stock. 

Roadhouse Blues - Waikato Regional Council have consents out there that allow farmers to discharge directly to water.  The question that needs to be asked is why haven't they called in those consents?? 
Environment Southland is one (if not the only) Council that requires all farmers to have a consent for effluent discharge.  Others make it a permitted activity.  Regional Council policy has a lot to answer for in water quality.

Ultimately Central Govt. have a lot to answer for regarding water quality as it is them who have abdicated their responsibility by fobbing it off to local govts/councils.  In addition the mimimum water quality level in relation to human health only allows accidental immersion.  All of New Zealand's freshwater lakes and rivers should be safe for swimming if not drinking unless it can be proven that the water was not in this state since the time of creation. 
Who's ultimate responsibility is this - obviously every single one of us.
"The proposed national bottom lines for human health apply to 'secondary contact recreation', which is defined as wading or boating (except boating where there is high likelihood of immersion in the water body).  The bottom lines are based on the lower risk of ingesting or inhaling water during secondary contact recreation, compared with activities such as swimming that involve full immersion in the water body.  The proposed human health bottom lines are set at 5% infection risk from E.Coli, and a low risk of health effects from cyanobacteria, when using water for wading or boating.  Again, this level is being proposed as the minimum level at which regions can set their freshwater objectives.  A more stringent attribute state can be chosen if a lower risk of infection is desired.  In addition, contact recreation can still be chosen as a value for a particular freshwater management unit if the community desires a higher level of protection for swimming and other activities that involve full immersion." - Proposed amendments to the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management 2011.  www.mfe.govt.nz/publication/water/proposed-amendments-nps-freshwater-man...
This is a current discussion document released November 2013 and submissions close February 4th and I discovered it by pure accident.  I'd like to know why the public are not informed of these issues.

meh, the Ministry for Environment held workshops all around the country at the end of last year, including some held as huis.  I attended one. There was a diverse group of attendees. Planners, Doc, Fish and Game, Iwi, farmers etc.  What struck me most was how the council planners repeatedly asked throughout the workshop how do they write plans/policy if they had to collaborate with the community. This was after they had had a closed workshop on that very subject the day before at the Council. Admittedly these were young(ish) people with probably not a lot of life experience.
I find the intention, that it will be the community that decides what levels (within the framework) they are willing to accept very good .  Having all waterways safe for swimming at all times will mean the end to Councils being able to use waterways for dumping of sewage/stormwater.  Not necessarily a bad thing, but it will be a huge cost to ratepayers.  I read an example of this recently where the Gore community could accept a lower level as the cost to its ratepayers to upgrade their sewage could be a financial burden that ratepyers couldn't sustain. I don't agree with all parts of the proposed amendments but the part of communities, not outsiders, setting the values they value is essential to long term solutions.
Southland has had a Land and Water 2020 Forum running for around 3 years now.  It draws members from all the stakeholders to work collaboratively on water. http://www.es.govt.nz/environment/water-and-land-2020-and-beyond/

Thanks CO.  I saw that workshops and huis were held and even though I consider myself fairly imformed I wasn't aware of them at the time.
I agree that community involvement is important and this seems to work in an area such as Raglan/Whaingaroa Harbour where there has been a huge amount of work done regarding their waterways.  I have doubts with many other areas where the focus is on economic growth and so called standards of living at all costs.
It appears that we have allowed the degradation of our waterways because external costs have never been priced in.  Maybe if the cost was higher individuals and communities would not only look at their own actions regarding use and consumption but also encourage more accountability from their councils re essential services.  By accepting lower values we are effectively saying it is ok to pollute our natural environnment.
At what point do communities continually allow a lower value because of cost.  Is it the cost system that is ultimately unsustainable?

At what point do communities continually allow a lower value because of cost.  That is up to that community to decide.  Our environment stopped being 'natural' the day humans arrived and made their mark.  
What doesn't seem to be widely understodd - or perhaps just conveniently forgotten - is that there can be a considerable time lag from the time an action/event occurs to the time it affects water quality.  Lake Ellesmere for example is expected to continue to degrade for some years to come because of lag times and I was told by a senior member of E-can it will be upwards of 40years before any significant improvement will be seen. So yes, we have a problem, and yes, some sectors are working on it and more needs to be done, but in reality there may be waterways where some of us will not see a significant improvement in our lifetime.  Doesn't mean we don't do anything about it, just means we have to be cognisant of the fact that despite our best efforts some things are just going ot take a while to sort out.  So the need for local community collaboration on what they value and how they will address the issue has never been more important.  
I am personally well aware of the near destruction of community collaboration and its result, when individual egos get involved in water issues. Its a community problem that requires a community driven solution. Those outside that community may not like it, but then neither are they willing to live there.
Banks get really jittery when environmental policy/costs to individuals start affecting property values due to lack of affordability. ;-)