More irrigation schemes in Nelson/Murchison


There are a number of applications put into the Tasman District Council for water
rights for irrigation.

Many rivers in the reigon (Buller, Matakitaki, Maruia, etc etc) have between 10-15%
of their lowest flow allocated as available for irrigation.

This is all very well in theory, but there are a number of problems i see in the implementation of these schemes.


1) How do they know what the *real* lowest flow is at these points on the river, especially when there is no flow meter there.

2) Weather patterns change, can the allocation also change ?

3) How do they know they are only taking their quota ? There is currently no requirement for a flow meter on these irrigations schemes. What is to stop the operator using 2 weeks quota in one week, none the next, even with a meter ? What is wrong with a flow restrictor ?

4) Why does the council charge $400 for a water resource concent, then keep it ? Surely that $400 belongs to the users of the river, who are adversely affected by less water in the river.

5) The irrigation will only ever be used in times of drought, when the river is already at it's lowest. This could be the difference between an enjoyable river trip, and a complete dead loss.


1) Require flow rate restrictors on all irrigations schemes.

2) Require that the irrigator store their own water during times of excess, for use during times of drought.

3) Post data about who/what/where in a publicly accessable place.

Can i suggest that we complete this list of objections and suggestions and submit them to the TDC, and perhaps other councils ?


andy.backhouse0's picture

I submitted recently to the West Coast Regional Council's Consultative draft Water Management Plan on the same sort of issues. Here our particular concerns are the proposed damming of the Arnold. I'm not sure if any such document exists for the regional council there in Murch, but if it does it may lay down limits for water use & how they are determined. Given the importance of particularly summer river flows to the Murchison area economy now, the council will need to allow for our usage & the natural value & state of the river ecosystem as well as the farmers' needs.

muzz's picture

Hi Rex

I think your idea about presenting a general list of concerns/queries to TDC is a very good one, if only for the fact that it will start them thinking that they should consult with other river users when they have received irrigation applications.

And the idea that it could be developed into some sort of code of practice or information and issues sheet for all regional councils is also very good.

I don't suppose you would consider coming to the NZRCA AGM on 6 September in Wellington to discuss this more?

Feel free to email me privately in response.


Maree (Muzz)

rex's picture

No Takers ?

No-one have anything to add at all ?