Group working towards mid-July public notification date for consent applications
For immediate release: Monday 14 June 2010
Environment Bay of Plenty’s Rivers and Drainage Group is working towards a mid-July public notification date for its consent applications for the Ohau Channel Weir and Okere Gates operations.
The Rivers and Drainage Group, which is the current consents holder for the structures, is applying for resource consent to continue to operate them. The two structures control water levels in Lakes Rotorua and Rotoiti.
Environment Bay of Plenty Rivers and Drainage Group Manager Ken Tarboton said as part of the consent application process, the group is this week carrying out a trial flush of the Ōhau Channel and Okere Arm, through its operation of the Okere Gates.
“Parts of the community, particularly Ngāti Pikiao, have during the consent consultation process repeatedly requested a trial that opens the Okere Gates. Until now this has not been possible, however with Lake Rotorua and Lake Rotoiti both close to their current consent maxima, a trial is now possible,” Mr Tarboton said.
“The trial will allow a relatively large volume of water to flow through the Ohau Weir and the Okere Gates, to flush the Ohau Channel and the Okere Arm. The measurements we obtain from the trial will provide very useful information for both the Group and the community when the consent is notified.”
Mr Tarboton said the trial would keep Lake Rotoiti’s levels within the current consent’s target range, but would result in a deviation from the operating guidelines.
The trial would involve opening the Okere Gates and flushing water through the Ōhau Channel and Okere Arm, and holding the gates open until Lake Rotoiti reaches its lower target level. During the initial high flow period of the trial there will be an impact on river users, with flows above those that allow recreational use of the Kaituna River. Discussion with commercial rafters on impacts to them are underway.”
The trial will not only allow flushing of the Ōhau Channel but will also allow the Regional Council to see the relationship between lake water levels and flooding along the Ōhau Channel at Mourea. It is also an opportunity to make some observations and potentially take measurements of water quality as the trial progresses.
Mr Tarboton said as well as the trial, the Group is working on finalising the Assessment of Environmental Effects.
“We’ve now finalised the proposed operational strategy for the structures, with our proposed strategy for Lake Rotoiti refined following recent consultation and further modelling of the options,” Mr Tarboton said.
“We believe we’ve achieved a proposed strategy that the community can live with, however we were unable to meet all the requests that were put to us.”
Mr Tarboton said he believed the proposal met the most important aspects that had been raised with the Rivers and Drainage Group, and that a number of the requests the community had made could be met outside the consent.
“Once the application is publicly notified, people will have the opportunity to make submissions on it, before it goes to either a panel of commissioners or the Environment Court.,” Mr Tarboton said.
The initial resource consent application was lodged with Environment Bay of Plenty’s Consents Section in December last year with the understanding it would be refined before it was publicly notified. This enabled the Rivers and Drainage Group to continue to operate the structures under the existing consents until a decision is made on this application.
For more information about the project people can visit www.envbop.govt.nz
For further media information please contact Ken Tarboton, Group Manager Rivers and Drainage on 029 368 9512, or Prue Sisam, Senior Communications Advisor, on 0800 368 267 or (021) 929 349.