Order changed to use Rakaia's water

RACHEL YOUNG
Last updated 05:00 05/02/2013

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A landmark attempt to change the environmental measures protecting the Rakaia River has succeeded.

Electricity firm TrustPower, which applied for changes to the National Water Conservation (Rakaia River) Order 1988, got its wish granted.

The amendments will enable TrustPower to use water that is currently diverted and stored in Lake Coleridge to be used in irrigation.

The company already runs a hydro-power station at the lake.

Last year, Environment Canterbury adopted the recommendations of independent hearing commissioners supporting the amendments.

However, the final decision was passed to Environment Minister Amy Adams.

Yesterday, Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee said the Government had accepted ECan's recommendation to change the water conservation order that covers the Rakaia River.

"They will also be able to apply for resource consent to construct a canal from Lake Coleridge to join up with the Central Plains irrigation scheme, which has already been consented."

ECan commissioner David Caygill said the use of Lake Coleridge for irrigation storage was a key component of the Canterbury Water Management Strategy.

"The strategy covers a number of elements, including enhancing biodiversity and ecosystems, the setting of environmental limits to protect water quality, as well as greater irrigation."

However, Forest and Bird South Island conservation manager Chris Todd said it appeared the Government's decision was based on economics and wildlife could be adversely affected.

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- The Press

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