Environment Canterbury has received a resource consent application from Hurunui Water Project Limited.
What is proposed?
A copy of the notification from ECan is attached.
If the consents are granted, there would be massive changes to this wonderful river.
In summary, the application asks for consents to:
- Build a weir (dam) at the Lake Sumner outlet, which would raise the height of the lake and store up to 27 million cubic metres of water. A minimum flow over the dam of 9 cumecs is promised.
- Build a 75 metre high dam on the South Branch above the confluence with the North Esk River. The dam would impound a 7 km stretch of river – up to 162 million cubic metres. A minimum flow over the dam of 4.5 cumecs is promised.
- Build an intake structure on the Hurunui either near the Mandamus River confluence or upstream from the Dampier Stream confluence
- Take up to 32 cumecs from the river for irrigation purposes.
- To generate electricity, either at the South Branch Dam or in the irrigation canal.
What are we doing about it?
We have until 11 September to prepare submissions, and then a hearing will follow – but no date has been set yet...
We have prepared an easy submission form and promote it widely – and we encourage every club member to submit, and ideally to ask to be heard at the hearing.
- prepare a detailed WWCC submission
- coordinate submissions
Most of our resources, including a submission template, are now on the Whitewater New Zealand webite, www.rivers.org.nz You can also get a copy of a submission form at Canoe and Outdoor World; PaddlerZone; or Topsport.
The more submissions the better – this is one worth fighting for.
What about the water conservation order?
The Tribunal recently announced their recommendation to the Minister for the Environment.
The Special Tribunal found that the following were outstanding, and deserved protection in their natural state.
- North Branch, Lake Sumner and Loch Katrine for natural character, wild and scenic, brown trout habitat and fishery and angling
- Lake Marion for natural character, wild and scenic, indigenous fauna
- South Branch above Masons Stream for Natural Character
- Mainstem from Lake Sumner to Gabriels stream for natural character, wild and scenic, brown trout habitat, fishery and angling
- Mainstem Maori Gully for natural character, wild and scenic
- Mainstem Gabriels Stream to South Branch for brown trout habitat and fishery and angling
- Mainstem Sisters Stream to Surveyors Stream (bottom of Maori Gully) for white water recreation (kayaking, rafting, bugging)
- All Mainstem and lakes (except Taylor and Shephard) for cultural values
The remainder of the lower Hurunui has a prohibition on damming, and technical fish screen requirements to protect the contribution it makes to the Upper Hurunui fishery.
What we missed out on was any protection at all for the South Branch (which is one of the two dam sites Hurunui Water Project have applied for). Despite finding that the South Branch contributes important sediment and flows that support the outstanding values downstream of the confluence between the South Branch and mainstem the Tribunal found that it would not necessarily result in the actual loss of the outstanding characteristic, and therefore having regard also to the needs to irrigate, have not precluded a dam on the South Branch, and have left that decision to be made pursuant to normal sustainable management tests.
The recommendation is able to be appealed to the Environment Court. If not appealed within 15 working days it is up to the Minister for the Environment to approve the WCO before the WCO provides any protection.
So - despite some good news on the WCO front we need to keep the HWP project submissions going.
How else can I help?
The Hurunui is a critical river for Canterbury whitewater – so it’s worth fighting for. There will be a lot of work to do to - if you are able to help, please email me on email@example.com
“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter” – Martin Luther King