Rakaia Selwyn Groundwater: Decision on Review of ConsentsThe decision of the Hearing Commissioners was issued on 12 February. It provides a review of the consent conditions of 523 water permits of existing consent holders in this zone, which covers about 128 000 hectares between the Selwyn and Rakaia Rivers on the Canterbury Plains. Environment Canterbury’s ‘annual allocation limit’ for the groundwater zone under its Proposed Natural Resources Regional Plan [PNRRP] is 215 million cubic metres per year [Mm3/a]. The currently consented allocation is about 245 Mm3/a, i.e. 114%, making it a ‘red zone’. About 20% of the consent holders have 80% of the allocation. Surface water resources are connected with the zone aquifers, and there is a particular concern about low flows in springs and lowland streams, including those tributary to Te Waihora Lake Ellesmere. The decision provides for revised consent conditions relating to: annual volumes of take; minimum stream flow effects; required water metering; efficient use; and the special nature of Selwyn District Council takes for community supply. It recognises ‘intensive pasture’ as the land use for calculating annual allocations. The decision deliberately does not deal with future management, including ‘adaptive management’ proposals and ‘far-field’ depletion effects. It does recognise provisions of the PNRRP, including the Schedule WQN9v3 method of calculating annual volumes.