Board of Inquiry grants consent for increased Waikato River allocation

We are pleased with the Board of Inquiry decision to grant a 20-year resource consent for up to 150 million litres a day (net) from the Waikato River, ensuring Aucklanders and their neighbours in Tuakau and Pokeno continue to have a reliable water supply as the population grows.

This means we now have consent for 300 million litres of water a day (net) from the river year-round, as the original resource consent for 150 million litres of water a day (net) is still active.

Auckland Mayor Phil Goff says the Board of Inquiry’s decision is important to ensure the resilience of water supply to Auckland. “With population growth and the impact of climate change meaning more frequent and extreme drought, we have to be able to guarantee the reliability and resilience of the city’s water supply.

“Drawing water from the Waikato River before it is discharged into the sea does not affect the wellbeing of the river nor other applicants for water use, dropping the level of the river by just a few centimetres where it runs around six metres deep.

“Auckland has recently taken a range of measures to ensure water security, investing $225 million in water infrastructure to increase water supply by 100 million litres a day. It has also focused on conserving water, reducing leakages, encouraging the use of rainwater off roofs, while planning longer term to ensure sustainable measures such as treating and reusing wastewater.

“We are grateful for the Board of Inquiry’s decision and the understanding of the many groups who participated in the Inquiry. Watercare is also committed to investing in upgrading the water quality in the Waikato River in acknowledgement of its ability to draw more water from the river,” Mayor Goff said.

Watercare chief executive Jon Lamonte acknowledges the application process has taken many years and he is very thankful to all those involved.

“Securing this consent for the people of Auckland has required a marathon effort. I’m truly thankful to everyone involved, from the central and local government officers to community groups to Waikato Tainui and other iwi representatives. At times the conversations have been challenging and confronting but I think we’ve emerged from this process stronger and with a desire to work collaboratively for the good of the awa.

“Through our Waikato River partnerships, we are going to invest $2million each year on projects that restore the awa and its tributaries. The Waikato River helps us to provide a lifeline service to our customers and we will be doing our bit to give back and allow it to thrive.”

Lamonte says work on building a new permanent water treatment plant is underway.

“Our plan is to develop our Waikato A Water Treatment Plant in stages, timed to meet population growth, as we have done with the original treatment plant. In time, we will need to build a second pipeline to the city.

“In seeking this consent, we agreed that it would be the last time we would ask to increase the amount we draw from the river. We will not apply for more in the future however we will renew our existing consents in time.

“While we are building our new treatment facility by the Waikato River, we will also be exploring options for future water sources, which could include purified recycled water, desalination and groundwater sources. These discussions are already underway.”

Lamonte encourages Aucklanders to continue to be mindful of their water use.

“The importance of using water wisely is as important today as it was before we received the Board of Inquiry’s decision; water is a precious resource that deserves to be looked after. Aucklanders did a fantastic job to minimise their water use while the city recovered from drought. Our challenge now is to retain those waterwise habits and build on them further.”