Resource Management (Waitaki Catchment) Amendment Act

The Waitaki River is one of New Zealand's largest braided rivers. Its catchment is predominantly located in Canterbury but covers a small part of Otago as well. There are many competing claims to the water in the Waitaki catchment, including hydroelectricity generation, agriculture (irrigation) industry, domestic water supply, recreation and tourism. The river is also very significant to Ngai Tahu, tangata whenua of the region.

The Resource Management (Waitaki Catchment) Amendment Act 2004 aimed to improve decision-making in respect of allocation in the Waitaki catchment. The Amendment Act provided for the creation of a Waitaki Catchment Water Allocation Board which was an independent board charged with developing a regional plan to guide water allocation in the Waitaki catchment. It was given all the powers that a regional council would have to develop the plan.

The Waitaki Catchment Water Allocation Regional Plan was approved in September 2005 and the Board was disbanded. The plan applies to 'the taking, use, damming or diverting of water from water bodies within the Waitaki catchment.' It was amended by the High Court following litigation between Meridian Energy and an irrigation company. The plan is unusual in that it takes precedence over all other applicable policy statements and plans.

The plan sets out policies to guide decision making under the plan, identifying particular water bodies which have high natural character, providing that environmental flows should be established for all rivers in the catchment, and prohibiting the abstraction of water where flows have reached their minimum level. Extraction of any water is prohibited from specific water bodies. The plan does not address water quality.

To view a copy of the plan please click here.

Last updated at 11:20AM on March 6, 2015