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Aquifer consents granted

17 Nov 2016

Aquifer consents granted

Consents have been granted for the proposed injection trial to recharge the Makauri aquifer using water from the Waipaoa River.

A decision by independent commissioners was published Monday 14 November, after hearings held on 17 and 18 October.

Eleven submissions were received when consents were notified in June.

Ten submitters were in support of the trial that aims to find out if the aquifer can retain surplus water from the river during winter using the Managed Aquifer Recharge (MAR) technique. 

The MAR trial proposes to test an injection of up to 110,000 cubic meters of water and monitor the effects of hydrology and geochemistry of the water underground. The results will determine the potential of using MAR as a tool to help to sustain a water supply for horticulture industries on the Poverty Bay Flats in summer.

A submission from Rongowhakaata Iwi Trust opposed the consents on the basis of impact to the environment and health of the river and groundwater.

Council environment and regulatory group manager Kevin Strongman says before moving forward with the trial, staff would collaborate with mana whenua on the design, implementation and evaluation of the monitoring programme.

“Minimising risk to the water sources was the focus for us throughout the investigation phase for the trial. 

“For over a year, thorough research, testing and assessment by expert scientists and engineers was done to determine the best source of water and mitigation measures for sediment and bacteria getting into the groundwater.”

Limits restricting levels of E.coli and turbidity have been outlined in the consent conditions that Council will need to adhere to for water quality.

The trial will use 110,000 cubic meters of water and there is a 4000 litre minimum flow limit that is required before any water can be taken from the river, and a maximum extraction and injection rate of 22 litres per second.

“We’re meeting with members of Rongowhakaata next week and will seek to widen collaboration to stakeholders from local hapu and other iwi.”

“This will include a process for monitoring the cultural health and mauri of both the Makauri Aquifer and Waipaoa River.”

A management plan for the drilling and careful installation of the bores is also required.

“We’ll aim to finalise the design of bores and infrastructure, then tender and select a contractor by the end of the year.”

All going well, Mr Strongman says the trial would take place between 1 May and 30 September 2017 and a community liaison group will be set up to engage the community in the monitoring and operation of the trial. 

The notified consent application and decision