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Worst case water scenario not likely for Wellington, says Chris Laidlaw

Press Release – Greater Wellington Regional Council
The Environment Commissioner’s report on water quality in New Zealand is a timely reminder of the delicate balance between land-based activity and water quality.

“There are some very good messages in the report about how changing land use has over time, affected the quality of our natural water resources. It highlights the important role the community has to play in deciding how to manage their environment now and in the future,” says Greater Wellington Regional Council Councillor Chris Laidlaw, who is chairperson of the council’s natural resource committee, Te Upoko Taio.

“The release of the report is timely because the Wellington region is currently moving to an integrated catchment management approach. where local people will make decisions on land and water management issues based on local knowledge and scientific information and support provided by the council.

“The first of five whaitua (zone or catchment) committees is being established in Wairarapa or Ruamāhanga catchment area where much of the Wellington region’s farming occurs.

Councillor Laidlaw points out that while the result of the models used in the report represent the worst case scenario (predicting an increase of 24,600ha in dairy and a 17% increase in nitrogen load from 1996 levels to 2020) this is a hypothetical exercise and not what is likely to actually happen in the Wellington region.

“This is based on land that has the potential to be irrigated for dairy, and also based on existing farm practice continuing and on there being no restriction or limits to nitrogen loads. These are very unlikely scenarios given the Regional Council’s community based approach to the regional planning process. We expect the community, through the whaitua committees, to set limits on nitrogen loads and other practices and ultimately drive an improvement in farm practice.

“Never-the-less the Commissioner has sounded a warning that we all need to take heed. It encourages us to work hard to ensure our activities do not disturb nature’s natural and delicate balances,” Councillor Laidlaw says.

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1 comment:

  1. Mike Bennett, 9. December 2013, 8:27

    Chris Laidlaw says: ” the result of the models used in the report represent the worst case scenario (predicting an increase of 24,600ha in dairy and a 17% increase in nitrogen load from 1996 levels to 2020) this is a hypothetical exercise and not what is likely to actually happen in the Wellington region.”

    This is not correct. The report clearly states that it takes a conservative approach to what the report concludes. The report also states that it does not take into account possible future irrigation schemes.

    What Chris Laidlaw does not say is that the GWRC is the major sponsor of the Wairarapa Water User Project. The WWUP is seeking to irrigate and intensify agriculture over 45,000 hectares of the Wairarapa while at the same time it is the GWRC that appoints and pays the new Whaitua members there. The Whaitua will set water user limits.

    Mike Bennett
    Mangatarere Valley, Wairarapa, resident