31 July 2018
Rangitata River Appeal
A battle of David and Goliath proportions is about to comence over 10 cumecs of Rangitata Water with a band of stoic Salmon Anglers having appealed to the Environment Court the granting of this additional water - The group consists of spokesperson Paul Hodgson, the NZ Salmon Angles Association, South Canterbury Salmon Anglers Association and Future Rivers.
We need to ask is when is enough enough, how much water should a river give before we say no more?
The Rangitata River is protected by a Water Conservation Order, often likend to the National Parks for Rivers. The Rangitata gained it's Conservation Order in 2006 to protect it's outstanding Salmon Fishery - However that Salmon Fishery is in crisis, having declined alarmingly and it's fair to say is now hanging in the balance, a balance which salmon anglers fear may be tipped beyond the piont of any revival by this additional take of water.
And one of the causes of the decline is placed firmly at the foot of the company wanting to take the additional water, the Rangitata Diversion Race Managemnet Ltd. (RDRML) Sinces it's inception some 70 years ago it has never operated with and effective fish screen which has meant young salmon on their anual mirgration down river to the sea have often ended up feeding seagulls on a farmers paddock much to the ire of anglers. While the RDRML will be replacing the current ineffective screen with a new state of the art screen, anglers remained concerned about the extra water take.
Since the Conservation Order came info effect another 20cumec has already been taken from the river, and this propossed new take adds a further 10, this will bring the combined potential instantainous take to about 65 cumecs a second from the river at flows of 142cumecs. That's just a little shy of 50% and there is nothing to stop the next person from coming along and applying for the next 10 cumecs and so on... currently there is no upper limit
Canterbury's rivers are in a very poor state, from significant abstractions, and nutrient problems. It's time those who make the decisions started to listen to the people, after all the rivers belong to all New Zealanders, and need to be managed in the interests of all, for the next generations, rather than the benefit of a few today.