The Lower Waitaki – South Coastal Canterbury Zone Committee finalised its water management Zone Implementation Programme (ZIP) at its February meeting.

The ZIP recommends actions, responsibilities and time-frames for activities to help achieve the principles, targets and goals set out in the Canterbury Water Management Strategy (CWMS).

Once accepted by councils, ZIPs form the basis for the design and realignment of council work and planning programmes for freshwater. The Lower Waitaki Zone Committee plans to present the ZIP to Environment Canterbury and the Waitaki and Waimate District Councils in March 2012.

Committee Chair Robin Murphy said the zone committee has worked hard to reach consensus decisions that reflect the needs of the community.

“The Lower Waitaki Zone Committee has worked collaboratively with stakeholders and community members to develop recommendations for water management that are acceptable to a wide range of interests.

“The underlying philosophy of the CWMS is that local communities should be making decisions on local water management and the ZIP provides a great chance to reflect the needs of local people.

“As a committee we have a wide diversity of experience and this means when we came to putting detail on paper all reasonable endeavour was made to capture a diverse range of opinions in the ZIP,” he said.

The ZIP provides around 50 recommendations to councils and other stakeholders to provide future generations with the greatest environmental, cultural, social and economic benefits from the region’s water.

The recommendations are focussed around six key priority areas; water quality and nutrient management, reliability of supply, Waitaki Catchment Water Allocation Regional Plan, Wainono lagoon and catchment, Hakataramea catchment needs, and biodiversity protection.

The draft ZIP was released in late October 2011 and comments and feedback called for. Public meetings were held prior to the development of the ZIP and then post the development of the draft ZIP at locations across the zone.

Robin Murphy said the development of the ZIP was a very thorough process.

“Since forming in October 2010 we have had numerous formal meetings, field trips, as well a number of public workshops and community meetings to receive and review information and discuss priorities for freshwater management in the zone.

“Stakeholders and community members were given a chance to provide written feedback on the draft ZIP, and in general it was very constructive. Many felt a strong need for improved opportunities for information sharing and dialogue between agencies and the community.

“There was also a strong call for improvement in water quality to protect streams and their ecosystems. Forming catchment groups was a popular way of addressing many of these issues.

“As a committee we are looking for continued collaboration as the programme is implemented and we will be looking at ways of extending and sharing knowledge between all parties and working with industry groups to achieve the outcomes we all want,” he said.

During the engagement and feedback process on the ZIP, the committee identified a number of additional work streams and gaps in knowledge that will be addressed in its 2012 work programme including; gravel extraction, management of stockwater races, stormwater management, drainage management, flood management.

Copies of the final ZIP can be downloaded from the Lower Waitaki – South Coastal Canterbury page at www.ecan.govt/canterburywater.

The committee’s next public meeting is on 15 March 2012.