Victory for Upper Waitaki environment

12 Dec 2011

Environment Canterbury (ECan) last month declined nine irrigation and water take consents in the Upper Waitaki Valley to protect the area’s water quality.

Three companies had applied to irrigate a total of nearly 5350 hectares of land in the Upper Waitaki area, next to the Mackenzie Basin.

Conservation Advocate Nicola Vallance said it was particularly encouraging that the ECan commissioners based their
decision largely on potential impacts on water quality.

“We believe there is no place for industrial-scale dairying and other inappropriate developments that will ruin the area’s water quality, and destroy
an iconic landscape and the unique animals and plants that live there,” Nicola said.

A survey by Lincoln University showed that New Zealanders’ top environmental concern was the quality of our freshwater.

“New Zealanders are extremely concerned about the need to protect our freshwater and, unlike our mostly polluted lowland rivers, the rivers, lakes
and streams of the Mackenzie Country and Upper Waitaki Valley are still of high quality,” Nicola said.

In the decision, the commissioners noted that the main potential for adverse environmental effects was leaching of harmful nutrients from the
irrigated pasture into groundwater, and from there into streams, rivers and lakes.

There is still a large number of ECan decisions on water consent applications for the Mackenzie Basin due to be released before Christmas
and Nicola said it was important the same considerations involving water quality be taken into account in these upcoming rulings.

Our Save the Mackenzie Country campaign calls for the protection of the region against inappropriate development. The unique native
plants and animals of the area area specially adapted to living in one of the driest regions in New Zealand where temperatures are characterised by
extremes of heat and cold.