Locals hosed off over Makakahi constraints

Looks like the Tararua District Council would prefer the lawyers aren’t kept too busy (and well watered) after the Eketahuna Community Board appealed to the Environment Court over a water take consent variation issued by Horizons Regional Council.

The council wants to talk with the board, presumably to try to talk it out of pursuing the case.

Alf’s information comes from the Tararua District Council, which advises:

Concerns involve the consent period, a lack of consultation with the council, and a lack of recognition of the “special character” of both the Eketahuna community and the Makakahi River.

Water take levels from the Makakahi River have been a significant issue for all parties, with the district council frequently being non-compliant as it has struggled to meet the regional council’s low-flow consent requirements despite summer hosing bans.

The Horizons Regional Council was bloody-minded enough to start prosecution proceedings (one publicly paid team of lawyers versus another) but later withdrew to allow Tararua District to seek a variation to the consent.

The district council’s application was successful – “a good outcome,” according to the council’s manager of district assets, Stephen Taylor.

It included some adjustment of water flows along with conditions requiring more detailed information on needs and effects on the Makakahi River prior to a review in July 2011.

But action from the Eketahuna board obviously threw a spanner in the works.

The new variation was to have started immediately but will be delayed pending the appeal to the Environment Court.

The process so far had cost the council about $50,000 and this would rise significantly if the appeal went ahead, Mr Taylor said.

Chief executive Blair King and Mr Taylor will meet with the Eketahuna Community Board to progress the matter.

Alf likes the idea of the matter being “progressed”. He suspects this means the community board and the council will sit down and talk things through before deciding what should be done next.

As for him, he isn’t greatly bothered by water shortages (although that doesn’t mean he is indifferent to the needs of water-deprived constituents). He rather likes drinking his whisky straight.

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