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Starting date for water moratorium delayed

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Wellington, July 23 NZPA - The starting date for a moratorium on water use from Canterbury's Hurunui River has been extended to August 2 so the public can be properly notified.

Environment Canterbury commissioners put the request for the moratorium to Environment Minister Nick Smith and he announced early this week he had approved it for new water takes from the river and its tributaries from today until October 1 next year.

But a new starting date was ratified yesterday by ECan commissioners to allow time for the move to be gazetted and avoid potential legal challenges.

In a letter to Dr Smith on Monday head commissioner Dame Margaret Bazley said the Hurunui catchment did not meet criteria in the Environment Canterbury Act, it faced increasing demand, was nearing full allocation and in lower reaches suffered diminished water quality.

The decision comes as a consent was sought for the Hurunui Water Project to store water in the north and south branches of the Upper Hurunui for irrigation of 42,000 hectares.

An Ecan spokesman said today the Hurunui Water Project consent application still needed to go to a hearing, which hadn't been expected until later in the year, and the extra time would make no difference to the chances of that, or any other consents in the pipeline being ticked off before August 2. The moratorium does not effect existing consent applications.

Dr Smith said the moratorium was needed until a proper plan for the river and catchment could be made.

The moratorium does not affect takes for reasonable domestic needs including drinking water for stock or fire fighting.

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