Hurunui and Waiau River Regional Plan recommendations accepted

Environmental Canterbury (ECAN) commissioners have accepted recommendations from a hearing panel on the proposed Hurunui and Waiau River Regional Plan. The plan arises from the Zone Implementation Plan (ZIP) developed by the Hurunui-Waiau Zone Committee under the Canterbury Water Management Strategy.

The commissioners replaced elected councillors after the National government passed the ECAN act forcing Fish & Game and Whitewater NZ to withdraw their application for a Water Conservation Order for the Hurunui River.

From kayakers' point of view, positives in the plan include maintenance of the prohibition of damming on the Hurunui North Branch (including Lake Sumner) and the Hurunui South Branch (both per the NRRP before), but negatives include the potential for additional water takes, such as that wanted by the Hurunui Water Project.

The proposed protection of the river from dams has been achieved after a long and drawn out process, says Fish & Game's Tony Hawker, "from lodging of the original Water Conservation Order application in 2008 and the subsequent hearings in 2009; the Hurunui Water Project consent applications; the Dambuster Hurunui protests; the re-application of the Water Conservation Order in 2010; The Hurunui Waiau Zone Committee process and finally the hearings for the Hurunui Waiau Regional Plan in 2012."