MEDIA RELEASE JUNE 26, 2020
Waikato River Authority says Watercare is running rough-shod over the river
The Waikato River Authority says Watercare is running rough-shod over the interests of the Waikato River with its tactics to secure more water for Auckland.
Waikato River Authority Iwi Co-Chair, Roger Pikia, says Watercare is being evasive and secretive, initially by not engaging with the Authority and now by not providing requested information in a timely way. The Authority has met under urgency to consider Watercare’s latest moves.
“We are very clear that our role and first concern is the health and wellbeing of the river. We are an independent voice on behalf of the river, which is mandated in law through Te Ture Whaimana (the vision and strategy for the river) which in turn was created through Treaty settlement.
“It is becoming increasingly difficult to ensure we carry out our role to protect the river while there is a lack of information coming from Watercare,” says Mr Pikia.
New Crown representative to the Authority, Dylan Tahau, says both the emergency water take, and the application to fast track Watercare’s Resource Consent to take more water from 2030, came without prior notice to the Waikato River Authority. “The only information we are getting is from their public relations campaign.
“We realise that Auckland is facing a water shortage, but its poor planning and now lack of genuine engagement is no way to solve the issue. Furthermore, the long term consent that Auckland wants to fast track, will have no impact on the current crisis,” says Mr Tahau.
The Authority Co-chairs say Auckland has been taking water from the Waikato River for 25 years and its contribution to the river in that period has been negligible. This despite a sizeable Auckland wastewater discharge into the river near Pukekohe. In the meantime, in the last ten years, the Authority and other groups in the Waikato region have invested more than a hundred million dollars to help clean-up the river.
Mr Pikia says it is likely Watercare’s wish to take significantly more water from the Waikato River would have a detrimental impact.
“Their desire to take significantly more water from the Waikato River forever, not only means others in this region miss out, but would also mean a serious impact on the river health,” says Mr Pikia.