Press Release – Kapiti Coast District Council
The decision by independent commissioners to approve a resource consent application for the Waikanae River Recharge Project is a major breakthrough, says Kāpiti Mayor Jenny Rowan.
“The need to secure a long term water supply solution is the biggest issue on the Coast and we have just nailed it. This is a hugely historic moment.
“We now have a way forward. Not only does the decision open the door to a 50-year water supply solution, we now have a 100-year supply solution when we include a future dam.
“This is a big win for current residents, future residents, the on-going development of the coast, and the environment.”
Late last year Council lodged a resource consent application with the Wellington Regional Council to increase its current daily water take from the Waikanae River from 23,000 to 30,700 cubic metres per day. The application also sought to use borewater to supplement the river flow in times of drought.
A panel of independent commissioners was established and began hearing submissions on the application in June this year.
The commissioners today found in favour of Council’s resource consent application and agreed to a 35 year term.
Mayor Rowan said Council was just as keen as everyone else to ensure the environment is preserved. “One of the major attractions of the river recharge scheme is the fact it is sustainable. This is a big plus. We would not want to do anything that would harm our special environment on the coast.
“It also makes economic sense as it builds on money previous Councils have already spent on the borefield and the scheme can be expanded in stages as demand increases. This is a big advantage.”
Council staff and consultants were now looking over the details of the conditions. “On an initial read the conditions look very workable and sensible,” said Chief Executive Pat Dougherty. “We were in close touch with Greater Wellington staff during the hearing process seeking common ground and agreement, so many of the potential conditions were known to us.
“I share the Mayor’s view that approval by the commissioners is a very big moment and follows considerable debate and a great deal of very good work by staff and consultants.”
Background notes for editors
Council has been grappling with a long term water supply for the Waikanae/Paraparaumu/Raumati area for some years. In 2000 the Ōtaki pipeline project was declined consent. This led to a Parliamentary Commissioner’s report which in turn led to the development of a “Water Matters Strategy” which was adopted in 2003.
That strategy outlined:
• a water consumption target of 490 litres per person a day. This allowed for 90 litres to cover losses and unauthorised usage;
• the need for an additional water supply;
• the need for water conservation measures to reduce consumption;
• the benefits for water conservation through the use of water meters; and
• the community’s wish to live in an environmentally sustainable manner.
Following the adoption of the Water Matters Strategy, the Council of the day put in place a number of water conservation initiatives including the allowance for water meters to be installed in 2007/08 and completion of the construction of the Waikanae borefield in 2005 at a cost of $14 million. The intention was to use underground water to supplement drinking water in times of drought.
The use of bore water was not well received by the community because of its taste and hardness. The installation of water meters did not proceed at the time.
In 2008, Council determined to solve the long term issue of water supply and committed $24 million in its 2009 Long Term Community Council Plan to address the need for additional water supply.
In July 2009 the Water Supply Project began. One of the initial tasks was to review the information that had accumulated over the previous 25 years. Once done, a list of 41 different water supply options was draw up. This was subsequently reduced to six. The six were:
• the River Recharge with groundwater;
• building a dam on the lower Maungakotukutuku Stream;
• aquifer storage and recovery;
• a Kapakapanui dam;
• a Ngātiwawa dam; and
• combined borefield and storage.
In October 2011 Council confirmed the River Recharge as its preferred option while at the same time deciding to purchase the land for the future construction of a dam. The two options when combined would provide a 100-year solution to water needs in Waikanae, Paraparaumu and Raumati.
When Council addressed the independent commissioners in June this year it highlighted 10 key strengths in support of River Recharge. They were:
• the large number of alternatives considered;
• the significant public involvement;
• the development of an iwi partnership;
• the detailed environmental investigations;
• the level of conservatism applied to the modelling;
• the ability of the River Recharge scheme to respond to environmental effects and demand factors;
• the financial impact on the community would be minimised through staging and building on existing infrastructure;
• the use of adaptive management techniques;
• the fact that it is the most cost-effective solution; and
• it is in-catchment and preserves options for other communities, such as Ōtaki.