CIF Project Summary: A second generation water (re) allocation framework for Marlborough

Grant No: 11/12

Last updated: August 2014

Contact details

Grantee: Marlborough District Council
Contact Person: Pere Hawes
Address: Seymour Street, Blenheim
Telephone: (03) 520 7400
Email: pere.hawes@marlborough.govt.nz

Project details

Status: In progress
CIF funding: $70,000 excl GST
Proposed start date: 1 July 2011
Proposed finish date: 30 June 2012
Region: Marlborough
Related website links: www.wil.co.nz
Other links Related website link: http://www.marlborough.govt.nz/Your-Council/RMA.aspx
Other links:

Project description

Council has commenced a review of its Regional Policy Statement and its two resource management plans which currently contain frameworks for the allocation of freshwater. As part of this review process it is necessary to review the efficiency and effectiveness of these existing allocation frameworks and to develop a second generation water allocation framework that reflects current water use opportunities and constraints. Through this grant, the Council intends to investigate an alternative regime to the first-in-first served system of allocation that most regional councils and unitary authorities currently utilise. A feature of this regime, developed by the New Zealand Business Council for Sustainable Development, is a proposal to enhance the transfer of the water. Water access entitlements (as distinct from water permits to take and use water) would be traded amongst water users, with share value being determined by the status of water resources.

The issue/opportunity

The majority of catchments/aquifers in Marlborough have either reached a status of full allocation in terms of the limit set in current resource management plans or are fast approaching a state of full allocation. Water has been, and still is, essential for the social and economic wellbeing of the Marlborough district, with most water allocated being used for irrigation purposes (especially to sustain viticulture). A state of full allocation, with no further access to water available, is a significant impediment to the future growth of Marlborough.

Through active metering of water use the Council is aware that there is a significant difference between paper allocations and actual water use. Utilisation is as low as 30% for some soil types. The unutilised portion of any allocation represents water that could be utilised by other users when in a state of full allocation.

The Council proposes to utilise the Business Council’s framework for the future management of water resources in Marlborough. The objective is to enable access to water that is otherwise “locked up” by existing water permits by providing a means of simply and effectively transferring water amongst users. The water access entitlements that would be traded would be based on existing allocations but would not replace existing take and use consents.

The context/background

This project will enable more efficient use of the water that is currently available from Marlborough’s surface and groundwater resources. In a state of full allocation, this is absolutely essential to enable the future growth of Marlborough which relies on sufficient quantities of adequate quality water. The water will be freed up from existing paper allocations and will be available to other existing users through the transfer process. The project will also enable strategic allocations to be made to uses essential to community wellbeing, such as drinking water supplies.

Methods

The project involves seven steps. The first step is to confirm the current state of allocation from Marlborough’s rivers and aquifers and to review the safe yield from those water resources given the results of state of the environment monitoring. At the same time, work will occur on establishing the value of Marlborough’s water resources. This work is important as it will establish the value that water provides to Marlborough’s economy and therefore confirm the opportunity costs that a state of full allocation creates.

These two steps will lead to the production of a discussion document summarising the issues involved with the current state of allocation of Marlborough’s water resources. The discussion document will include options for resolving the issues identified. This document will be used as the basis of consultation with water users, iwi authorities, other stakeholders and the wider community. Part of the consultation exercise will involve a water allocation forum being held in Blenheim in the later part of 2011. The forum will develop the issues and themes set out in the discussion document and will involve key stakeholders from Marlborough and from further afield.

The culmination of the project will be the production of a report recommending the nature and scope of the second generation water allocation framework for Marlborough. This final report will guide the preparation of draft provisions for the new Marlborough Regional Policy Statement and Resource Management Plan. These provisions will provide the statutory framework for water allocation for at least the next ten years. The statutory planning provisions will be supplemented by detailed work on establishing the mechanics of a water trading regime including share allocation, share value, a share register and rules for share trade. Both pieces will have to set out how the transition to the new regime is to be managed, which may include incentives.

Project Update: February 2014

Progress with the project was originally to schedule, with confirmation that water resources exceed, are at, or are fast approaching a status of full allocation through two technical reports prepared by staff. These reports also looked at the implications of continuing to allocate further water on the water resources and the natural and human use values they support.  Work on valuing Marlborough’s water resources, that will inform the overall project, was also completed on schedule.

In March 2012 the Council held a Water Forum for the purposes of communicating the current allocation status of the region’s water resources and presenting an option for managing this situation given ongoing demand for water.  Feedback following the Forum was that it was a successful event and a useful start to consultation with the community about reviewing water allocation. 

The Council wants to receive feedback from water users and others involved in water management on the proposal, including any alternative options for managing full/over allocation.  To this end, a Water Allocation Working Group (WAWG) was established out of the Water Forum to develop the discussion paper through to its final iteration.  Originally the discussion document was going to be released prior to the Water Forum, however by engaging the water users in the paper's development, a more robust outcome is expected to be achieved.  There have been 15 workshops with the WAWG up to the end of February 2014, another one is scheduled for March 2014. 

A crop irrigation rate model, which is designed to determine appropriate crop water requirements based on climate and soil type, is intended to be used to ensure any future allocations reflect actual crop demand.  This will assist the Council in addressing over-allocation and has the potential to enable new future development through the freeing up of water currently allocated but not utilised. 

The Council has contracted Aqualinc for a project to develop options for the mechanics of a future allocation regime and this work has been continuing throughout this reporting period.  The target for completion has been extended to the end of April 2014.  To assist with this work, the existing water permits in three catchments have been provided to Aqualinc.  Aqualinc has completed running these catchments through their irrigation rate model.  The results of this work has been reported back to the WAWG and continues to contribute to the discussion and decision-making.

The WAWG identified a gap in the collective knowledge with regards to the Wairau River and therefore, on the groups direction.  The Council has engaged John Hayes (Cawthron) to provide further information and recommendations with regards to the water allocation/management regime for the Wairau River.  This work is expected to be completed by the end of mid-April 2014 and is predominantly funded through an Envirolink medium advice grant. 

Although not directly part of this project, work on reviewing minimum flows for surface water, identifying waterway values and considering options for managing water quality has been ongoing through this reporting period, and, for the most part, is now complete.  Given the interconnectedness of water issues, this other work will undoubtedly contribute to this project in some capacity.  There has been ongoing direct consultation with relevant parties regarding this periphery work.

The target for completing a discussion document to be ready to use for wider consultation with the community is now April 2014.  The first meeting the WAWG identified 14 matters that they wished to consider in detail through the workshops before the discussion document is released.  These matters have recently been reviewed and updated and the group is happy with the progress that has been made to date.  The Group also recently reviewed a list of the over-arching principles that have been agreed on to date, this list also reflects the significant progress that has been made. 

A draft of the discussion document has been prepared and was considered by the WAWG at its meeting on 20 February 2014.  This is to be finalised with the contribution of various parties during March and April 2014.  The final discussion document will be circulated to all water users with an invitation to a water forum to be held in May (April is unsuitable for most water uses as they are preoccupied with vintage). At the forum users will not only have the opportunity to discuss the high level issues within the discussion document, they will also have the opportunity to take away the draft RPS provisions.  There will then be a sequence of “woolshed” meetings in each aquifer/catchment area to convey the detail for users relying on that resource. These are to occur in May/June.  Members of the WAWG will be presenters at these aquifer/catchment meetings.  A summary of the consultation strategy is attached (Appendix 4).

Prior to the discussion document going out to water users there will be a hui with the Iwi Working Group and with iwi leaders, and one-on-one meetings with industry representatives, such as Federated Farmers and Marlborough Wine Growers.


Project Update:  October 2013

Progress with the project was originally to schedule, with confirmation that water resources exceed, are at, or are fast approaching a status of full allocation through two technical reports prepared by staff. These reports also looked at the implications of continuing to allocate further water on the water resources and the natural and human use values they support.  Work on valuing Marlborough's water resources, that will inform the overall project, was also completed on schedule.

In March 2012 the Council held a Water Forum for the purposes of communicating the current allocation status of the region's water resources and presenting an option for managing this situation given ongoing demand for water.  Feedback following the Forum was that it was a successful event and a useful start to consultation with the community about reviewing water allocation. 

The Council wants to receive feedback from water users and others involved in water management on the proposal, including any alternative options for managing full/over allocation.  To this end, a Water Allocation Working Group (WAWG) was established out of the Water Forum to develop the discussion paper through to its final iteration.  Originally the discussion document was going to be released prior to the Water Forum. However, by engaging the water users in the paper's development; a more robust outcome is expected to be achieved.  There have been 12 workshops with the WAWG up to the end of October 2013, another two have occurred or are scheduled before the end of 2013. 

The target for completing a discussion document to be ready to use for wider consultation with the community is now February/March 2014.  The first meeting the WAWG identified 14 matters that they wished to consider in detail through the workshops before the discussion document is released.  These matters have recently been reviewed and updated and the group is happy with the progress that has been made to date.  The Group also recently reviewed a list of the over-arching principles that have been agreed on to date, this list also reflects the significant progress that has been made.

A crop irrigation rate model, which is designed to determine appropriate crop water requirements based on climate and soil type, is intended to be used to ensure any future allocations reflect actual crop demand.  This will assist the Council in addressing over-allocation and has the potential to enable new future development through the freeing up of water currently allocated but not utilised.

The Council has contracted Aqualinc for a project to develop options for the mechanics of a future allocation regime and this work has been continuing throughout this reporting period.  The target for completion has been extended to the end of February 2014.  To assist with this work, the existing water permits in three catchments have been provided to Aqualinc.  Aqualinc has completed running these catchments through their irrigation rate model.  The result of this work has been reported back to the WAWG and continues to contribute to the discussion and decision-making.

The WAWG identified a gap in the collective knowledge with regards to the Wairau River and therefore, on the groups' direction, Council staff are in the process of engaging an appropriate external consultant to provide further information/recommendations with regards to the water allocation/management regime for the Wairau River.  This work is expected to be completed by the end of February 2014 and it is likely to be funded through an Envirolink medium advice grant. 

Although not directly part of this project, work on reviewing minimum flows for surface water, identifying waterway values and considering options for managing water quality has been ongoing through this reporting period, and, for the most part, is now complete.  Given the interconnectedness of water issues, this other work will undoubtedly contribute to this project in some capacity.  There has been ongoing direct consultation with relevant parties regarding this periphery work.


Project Update:  June 2013

Progress with the project was originally to schedule, with confirmation that water resources exceed, are at, or are fast approaching a status of full allocation through two technical reports prepared by staff. These reports also looked at the implications of continuing to allocate further water on the water resources and the natural and human use values they support.  Work on valuing Marlborough's water resources, that will inform the overall project, was also completed on schedule.

In March 2012 the Council held a Water Forum for the purposes of communicating the current allocation status of the region's water resources and presenting an option for managing this situation given ongoing demand for water.  Feedback following the Forum was that it was a successful event and a useful start to consultation with the community about reviewing water allocation. 

The Council wants to receive feedback from water users and others involved in water management on the proposal, including any alternative options for managing full/over allocation.  To this end, a Water Allocation Working Group (WAWG) was established out of the Water Forum to develop the discussion paper through to its final iteration.  Originally the discussion document was going to be released prior to the Water Forum, however by engaging the water users in the paper's development; a more robust outcome is expected to be achieved.  There have been nine workshops with the WAWG up to the end of June 2013, and another three are scheduled. 

The target for completing a discussion document to be ready to use for wider consultation with the community is now late-2013.  The first meeting the WAWG identified 14 matters that they wished to consider in detail through the workshops before the discussion document is released.  These matters have recently been reviewed and updated and the group is happy with the progress that has been made to date.  The Group also recently reviewed a list of the over-arching principles that have been agreed on to date; this list also reflects the significant progress that has been made.

A crop irrigation rate model, which is designed to determine appropriate crop water requirements based on climate and soil type, is intended to be used to ensure any future allocations reflect actual crop demand.  This will assist the Council in addressing over-allocation and has the potential to enable new future development through the freeing up of water currently allocated but not utilised. 

The Council has contracted Aqualinc for a project to develop options for the mechanics of a future allocation regime and this work has been continuing throughout this reporting period.  The target for completion has been extended to 31 October 2013.  To assist with this work, the existing water permits in three catchments have been provided to Aqualinc.  Aqualinc has almost completed running two of these three catchments through their irrigation rate model.  The results of this ongoing work are reported back to the WAWG as the information becomes available.

Although not directly part of this project, work on reviewing minimum flows for surface water, identifying waterway values and considering options for managing water quality has been ongoing through this reporting period, and, for the most part, is now complete.  Given the interconnectedness of water issues, this other work will undoubtedly contribute to this project in some capacity.  There has been ongoing direct consultation with relevant parties regarding this periphery work.


Project Update:  February 2013

Progress with the project was originally to schedule, with confirmation that water resources exceed, are at, or are fast approaching a status of full allocation through two technical reports prepared by staff. These reports also looked at the implications of continuing to allocate further water on the water resources and the natural and human use values they support. Work on valuing Marlborough’s water resources, that will inform the overall project, was also completed on schedule.

In March 2012 the Council held a Water Forum for the purposes of communicating the current allocation status of the region's water resources and presenting an option for managing this situation given ongoing demand for water. Feedback following the Forum was that it was a successful event and a useful start to consultation with the community about reviewing water allocation.

The Council wants to receive feedback from water users and others involved in water management on the proposal, including any alternative options for managing full/over allocation. To this end, a Water Allocation Working Group (WAWG) was established out of the Water Forum to develop the discussion paper through to its final iteration. Originally the discussion document was going to be released prior to the Water Forum, however by engaging the water users in the paper's development; a more robust outcome is expected to be achieved. There have been six workshops with the WAWG up to the end of February 2013, and a seventh has since been held.

The target for completing a discussion document to be ready to use for wider consultation with the community is now mid-2013. The first meeting the WAWG identified 14 matters that they wished to consider in detail through the workshops before the discussion document is released. These matters have been, and continue to be, progressively worked through at each meeting. The Group has agreed that at the next meeting it would be timely to step back and look at the over-arching principles that have been agreed on to date.

Work on the upgrade of the Plant and Food Research SPASMO model, which is designed to determine appropriate crop water requirements based on climate and soil type, has been completed. It is intended that this tool, or something similar, will be used to ensure any future allocations reflect actual crop demand, which will assist the Council in addressing over-allocation. The delayed delivery of this model had a significant impact our timetable for the CIF Project. The Council are currently in the process of corroborating the outputs of the irrigation tool, exploring its usefulness/limitations and assessing whether it will meet our requirements and/or whether it requires further refinement. This assessment is due to be completed by 30 April 2013.

The Council has contracted Aqualinc for a project to develop options for the mechanics of a future allocation regime and this work has been continuing throughout this reporting period. The target for completion is 30 April 2013. To assist with this work, the existing water permits in three catchments have been provided to Aqualinc. In addition, Aqualinc is peer reviewing the outputs from the SPASMO irrigation tool, as water use will be a component they will consider as part of determining the possible mechanics behind future water allocation.

Although not directly part of this project, work on reviewing minimum flows for surface water, identifying waterway values and considering options for managing water quality has been ongoing through this reporting period, and, for the most part, is anticipated to be complete within the next reporting period. Given the interconnectedness of water issues, this other work will undoubtedly contribute to this project in some capacity. This work has progressed during the last period to direct consultation with relevant parties.


Project Update:  October 2012

There have been three workshops with the WAWG up to the end of October 2012, and an additional two meetings are scheduled to occur before the end of this year.  We are fortunate that a high calibre of stakeholders have agreed to participate however, due to their disposition, they are also very busy people with significant demands on their time.  During this reporting period this has resulted in some difficulty in setting meeting dates, which has had some impact on progress.  Due to the desire to continue the collaborative approach it was determined to be of greater importance to delay meetings in order to maximise the number of group members available to participate.

The target for completing a discussion document to be ready to use for wider consultation with the community is now early 2013.  The first meeting the WAWG identified 14 matters that they wished to consider in detail through the workshops before the discussion document is released.  These matters have been, and continue to be, progressively worked through at each meeting.

Simultaneously, work has continued on the upgrade of the Plant and Food Research SPASMO model, which is designed to determine appropriate crop water requirements based on climate and soil type.  It is intended that this tool will be used to ensure any future allocations reflect actual crop demand, which will assist the Council in addressing over-allocation.  The model was due to be delivered in February 2012, however Plant and Food Research ultimately did not deliver until September 2012.  In addition to the lateness in completing the upgrade, the product received did not meet our original expectations and, while it appears at this early stage to be somewhat fit for purpose, it is lacking in some features/content and is manually intensive to use.  The delay in receiving this upgraded tool has had a significant impact our timetable for the CIF Project.  The Council are currently in the process of corroborating the outputs of the irrigation tool, exploring its usefulness/limitations and assessing whether it will meet our requirements and/or whether it requires further refinement.

Work on a new aspect to the water allocation project has begun with the engagement of Aqualinc to develop options for the mechanics of a future allocation regime.  To assist with this work, the existing water permits in two catchments have been provided to Aqualinc.  In addition, Aqualinc will peer review the outputs from the SPASMO irrigation tool, as water use will be a component they will consider as part of determining the possible mechanics behind future water allocation.

Although not directly part of this project, work on reviewing minimum flows for surface water, identifying waterway values and considering options for managing water quality has been ongoing through this reporting period, and, for the most part, is anticipated to be complete within the next reporting period.  Given the interconnectedness of water issues, this other work will undoubtedly contribute to this project in some capacity.


Project Update:  June 2012

Progress with the project was originally to schedule, with confirmation that water resources exceed, are at, or are fast approaching a status of full allocation through two technical reports prepared by staff. These reports also looked at the implications of continuing to allocate further water on the water resources and the natural and human use values they support.  Work on valuing Marlborough's water resources, that will inform the overall project, was also completed on schedule.

In March 2012 the Council held a Water Forum for the purposes of communicating the current allocation status of the region's water resources and presenting an option for managing this situation given ongoing demand for water.  Feedback following the Forum was that it was a successful event and a useful start to consultation with the community about reviewing water allocation. 

The Council wants to receive feedback from water users and others involved in water management on the proposal, including any alternative options for managing full/over allocation.  To this end, a Water Allocation Working Group (WAWG) was established out of the Water Forum to develop the discussion paper through to its final iteration.  Originally the discussion document was going to be released prior to the Water Forum, however by engaging the water users in the paper's development; a more robust outcome is expected to be achieved.

There have been two workshops with the WAWG to date, and an additional three are scheduled to occur before the end of September.  It is intended that at the end of this period the discussion document will be ready to be used for wider consultation with the community.  The WAWG have identified 14 matters that they wish to consider in detail before the discussion document is released.

Simultaneously, work has continued on the upgrade of the Plant and Food Research SPASMO model, which is designed to determine appropriate crop water requirements based on climate and soil type.  It is intended that this tool will be used to ensure any future allocations reflect actual crop demand, and it will assist the Council in addressing over-allocation where it has occurred.  The model was due to be delivered in February 2012; however the Council is still awaiting delivery from Plant and Food Research.

Although not directly part of this project, work has also begun on reviewing minimum flows for surface water, identifying waterway values and considering options for managing water quality.  Given the interconnectedness of water issues, this other work will undoubtedly contribute to this project in some capacity.


Project Update: February 2012

The Council has completed a stocktake of water resources which confirms that surface water and groundwater resources exceed, are at or are fast approaching a status of full allocation. This causes issues in terms of ongoing economic growth, especially for the primary productive sector, on which Marlborough has historically relied. This is because under the Freshwater Management NPS, the Council is unable to allocate any further water.

Through this project the Council is about to embark upon a process of engaging with water users and the wider community to establish whether there are ways of managing this situation that allows further economic growth. This starts with a water forum to be held in Blenheim on 26 and 27 March 2012.

The purpose of the water forum is to firstly convey that surface water resources are fully allocated and groundwater resources are over allocated and, secondly, present an option for managing this situation given ongoing demand for water. The Council wants to receive feedback from water users and others involved in water management on the proposal, including any alternative options for managing full/over allocation.

The Council will use the discussion held during the water forum to prepare a discussion document. This will then be publicly released and will invite feedback on the options included in the discussion document.


Project Update: October 2011

Progress with the project was originally to schedule, with confirmation that surface water and groundwater resources exceed, are at or are fast approaching a status of full allocation through two technical reports prepared by staff. These reports also looked at the implications of continuing to allocate further water on the water resources and the natural and human use values they support.

Work on valuing Marlborough's water resources, that will inform the overall project, was also completed on schedule.

A draft discussion paper on the issues a state of full allocation creates and the options for managing this situation has been prepared. It is important that these options reflect accurate information on the current allocation of water resources to individual water permit holders. This has caused issues for the progress of the project as allocations can vary in time and space. A staff member has had to systematically review consent data from the Council's consents database. This issue was unforeseen at the time of preparing the funding application, but is close to being resolved. It is now anticipated that the draft discussion document can be completed before the end of the calendar year.

One of the options being considered is to utilise the Plant and Food model SPASMO to ensure future allocations reflect actual demand on "renewal". It is taking time to ensure that the model reflects the soil types that exist in Marlborough. Again, this issue was unforeseen.

As the project has sequential steps, these delays have caused subsequent delays for other milestones. A key period of public engagement is to commence in the New Year.

 

Last Updated: 06 May 2014

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