First of their kind protection measures have been recommended for New Zealand’s largest freshwater springs.
For the past two years, a special tribunal has been investigating whether or not a water conservation order should be placed on Te Waikoropupū Springs and its connected aquifers.
The tribunal’s long-awaited report was released today, which concluded that an order should be granted over Arthur Marble Aquifer and the springs, which include the Main Spring, Dancing Sands Spring and Fish Creek Springs, the headwaters of the Takaka River and its tributaries.
But it said the order shouldn’t extend to the Anatoki River and the Waikoropupū River, as they are “not hydraulically connected to Te Waikoropupū Springs”.
An application for greater water protection was first lodged in 2017 by Ngāti Tama and Takaka resident Andrew Yuill.
The springs are a registered wāhi tapu [sacred place], a taonga tuku iho [treasured resource], and are listed as a water of national importance for biodiversity.
The controls would prohibit or restrict new water and discharge permits from being issued, as to protect aquifer pressure and water quality.
Water quality was a major focus for the tribunal, including whether farming in the Takaka Valley and in particular, effluent from cattle, was contributing to contamination rates.
The recommendation report has been handed to Environment Minister David Clark for his consideration.