Air base well bid opposed

Allowing Base Woodbourne to install a new well on defence land near Blenheim could adversely affect water supply for other users, a vineyard opposing the base's resource consent application says.

The New Zealand Defence Force, on behalf of Base Woodbourne, made its case for installing a new well up to 40 metres deep on Jacksons Rd at a Marlborough District Council hearing yesterday.

The base already has resource consent to use water from three wells; two in the Wairau Aquifer and one in the Omaka Aquifer.

URS hydrogeologist Stephen John Douglass said the new well would be closer to the Wairau River and would be under less allocation pressure at times of low water levels than the Omaka Aquifer.

The existing consent allows Base Woodbourne to use the maximum volume of water a day - 1500 cubic metres - from any one of the three wells at any time.

The water at Base Woodbourne is used not only for defence purposes, but for domestic use, drinking water and irrigation purposes.

It is also used by Marlborough Airport Ltd and Safe Air Ltd which are located at the base.

A 30-year consent was originally requested but was changed to 10 years after three submissions were made opposing the proposal.

A submission by John Stichbury on behalf of Jackson Estate was made opposing the resource consent to build a new well.

Mr Stichbury said all future drawdowns in marginal water areas needed to be put on hold until the facts were verified.

The Woodbourne area was identified in 1983 as having a marginal groundwater supply and future activities would make that worse, Mr Stichbury said.

"Obviously the reduced river flow will reduce the replenishment of the Woodbourne aquifer making the marginal even more marginal."

Mr Douglass argued using the groundwater would pose no significant effects to the existing groundwater resource or existing users of the resource.

URS associate environmental planner Timothy Ensor said the proposal would ensure Base Woodbourne and Marlborough Airport had a secure, reliable supply of water. There would be no change to the effects on the groundwater resource as the same rate and volume of water authorised by previous consents would be used, Mr Ensor said. The hearing was adjourned for the conditions of consent to be looked at.

The Marlborough Express