A Board of Inquiry has granted an application from Watercare Services Ltd, an Auckland Council organisation, to draw an additional 150 million litres of water a day from the Waikato River for Auckland City’s water supply network.
The application was granted by a majority (2-1) with conditions including:
- The duration of the operational consents is set at 20 years rather than the statutory limit of 35 years sought and the operational consents will not begin until the construction work has been completed.
- Watercare must establish an executive committee to investigate and address options to reduce the volume of water taken and Auckland’s reliance on the Waikato River.
- Watercare must invite taangata whenua to join the executive committee to manage the investigation of ways to reduce the volume of water taken and Auckland’s reliance on the river.
- Watercare must establish a reporting framework for its investigation of water source options for Auckland’s municipal water supply.
- Waikato Regional Council may, every five years, review these consents to consider a range of matters including the appropriateness of any take rate or take volume.
While the decision to grant the application was not unanimous, the Board say in its decision summary: ” The Board wish to express their shared view that this is a finely balanced decision and there is only a small difference of opinion as to the most appropriate outcome.”
In June 2020, the Minister for the Environment “called in” Watercare’s application, deeming it a proposal of national significance under the Resource Management Act 1991. The Minister then appointed a Board of Inquiry to consider the application.
The applicant, Watercare Services Limited, sought resource consents associated with the construction, operation and maintenance of a new water intake and new discharge structure on the bed of the Waikato River. The application also includes taking surface water using that intake, and discharges of water, air and river material into the Waikato River next to the site of Watercare’s existing water treatment plant near Tuakau.
Our role in the process
The EPA provides administrative support services to the Board of Inquiry. These range from managing the public consultation, and organising the logistics of the hearing, to commissioning specialist advice to assist the Board.