Water Allocation and the Sustainability of Dairying in the Upper Waitaki River Basin
Water as a resource management issue is gaining prominence in New Zealand, both in terms of quality and quantity. In the Waitaki this became critical in 2003 when several proposed development schemes exposed the inadequacies of the RMA and highlighted the need for a catchment wide plan. Legislation was promulgated and a Regional Plan developed to address the issues of efficient allocation. This thesis aimed to question the efficiency of water allocation within the recent legislation and to examine the sustainability of dairying in this area with regard to cumulative effects to the hydrological system. It was found the Plan has failed to achieve its stated aims. Dairying in the upper Waitaki is currently increasing and applications for resource consent are being heard under legislation that is not backed by the science required within its policies. Fieldwork was undertaken to explore some of the science required under the Regional Plan to enable a 'reasonable use' test to be made. The aim was to assess the response of soils in the upper Waitaki to intensive irrigation. This revealed that the potential impacts of intensive irrigation in this area are significant and highlighted the need for further research. This is a study of how poor policy and planning, based on a lack of robust science has resulted in the inefficient allocation of water. This has implications for long-term sustainable resource use.