Milestone for OTOP water recommendations

The Orari Temuka Opihi Pareora (OTOP) Water Zone Committee has finalised its recommendations for improving the health of waterways in a large part of South Canterbury.

The committee’s Zone Implementation Programme Addendum (ZIPA) recommends environmental limits and practical actions to protect and improve freshwater quality in the zone.

OTOP Water Zone Committee Chair Hamish McFarlane said the recommendations have been finalised following an extensive period of community engagement.

“This ZIPA has been developed to meet the community’s expectations to improve rivers for swimming, fishing and food gathering, while also providing reliable water for economic growth. It represents a big step towards healthier rivers and waterways in our region. 

“There’s no doubt that it has been a balancing act – creating recommendations that will drive positive environmental change but in a sustainable way for our whānau, businesses and the environment. 

“The quality of debate and discussion within the committee has been high - and this has been backed up by robust input from working groups on key issues, such as minimum flow levels in key catchments, and technical information from Environment Canterbury.  

“We’ve also invited feedback from the wider community and stakeholders at key points in the process to gauge their opinion and views.”

The completion of the ZIPA is the result of many years of work by the water zone committee members, partner councils and rūnanga, as well as significant input from the community and key stakeholders. 

Since 2016, public meetings have been held throughout the region to discuss water management priorities.  The feedback from these meetings – including the outcomes expected by the community - helped guide the committee’s 100 plus recommendations to councils and stakeholders.

Priorities in the ZIPA include the provision of safe drinking water, protecting mahinga kai and sites of cultural significance, protecting native plants and their habitat and maintaining a reliable source of water that contributes to the economy.

The ZIPA was recently received by Timaru and Mackenzie District Councils and Environment Canterbury at their respective council meetings to inform their plans and on the ground actions.  It will be considered by Waimate District Council in early 2019.

A plan change to the Canterbury Land and Water Regional Plan will then be prepared by Environment Canterbury, which is expected to be notified in mid-2019. The community will then have a chance to provide feedback and submissions on the plan change.

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