23 Jun 2009

Changes proposed to how water is allocated in Otago

1:02 pm on 23 June 2009

Changes to the way water is allocated in Otago will put an end to a system that's been in place for more than 100 years, but there are concerns from some users that it won't address problems of security of supply.

The current allocation system uses permits that were originally issued by the Mining Wardens Court in the early 1900's, but these are due to expire under the Resource Management Act in 2021.

The system ranks water permits in the region and gives priority on that basis, but often results in those with lower rankings missing out

The Otago Regional Council says the proposed changes will affect the way water is allocated and used in Otago. It will propose minimum flows for three river catchments.

Policy director Fraser McRae says a lot of rivers in Central Otago dry up during the summer as people take water for irrigation, and that needs to change.

But he says there are still concerns about security of supply.

The council is currently holding a series of public hearings around the region. These will wind up at the beginning of July.