Kapiti Coast District Council's $23 million plan to top up the Waikanae River with bore water when the flow is low has been put on hold by Greater Wellington regional council.
The district council lodged its resource consent application for the "river recharge" scheme with the regional council in November. It is intended to guarantee good-quality drinking water for Raumati, Paraparaumu and Waikanae during droughts.
The regional council has now put the application on hold and asked the Kapiti council 50 questions, to be answered by February 26.
"After consultation with our peer reviewers, a number of information gaps and issues requiring clarification have been identified," the regional council advised KCDC.
The council has consent to take 23,000 cubic metres of water a day from the river. It fears demand from a growing population will force it to breach the limit, as it did seven years ago. It believes there is enough water in its borefield to cover medium population growth
Kapiti regional councillor Nigel Wilson said a lot more information was needed before a decision could be made on resource consent. "There are a lot of serious questions around this.
"It is untested science with no concrete examples of how it could work. It could have a really significant impact on the river and its ecology."
The regional council received 23 submissions on the scheme, three of which were in support, 18 opposed and two neutral.
Former Kapiti regional councillor Chris Turver, submitting against the scheme, said the river recharge plan was "an unsafe and unreliable option compared with a dam".
The 50 questions posed by the regional council ranged from ecological effects and saltwater intrusion into the borefield, to the accuracy of aquifer testing, the modelling used to justify the application, the effects of climate change, and population growth.
KCDC project manager Phil Stroud was not surprised by the additional questions. "This is normal for a project of this size and complexity . . . a normal part of the statutory process.
"This is not unexpected, as it is not unheard of for applicants to receive more questions seeking further information."
- The Dominion Post
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