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No Right Turn: Give the Rangitata back

Written By: - Date published: 12:10 pm, February 28th, 2021 - 28 comments
Categories: disaster, Environment, farming, uncategorized, water - Tags: , ,

Idiot/Savant at No Right Turn wrote on Thursday:

Back in 2018, National’s unelected Canterbury dictatorship issued a resource consent to take water from the Rangitata river for irrigation, in violation of its Water Conservation Order. Now, after two years of legal battles, the company has “voluntarily” surrendered it:

An irrigation company’s decision to relinquish its consent to take extra water from the Rangitata River when in high flow has been hailed as a “gift to New Zealand” by anglers.Rangitata Diversion Race Management Ltd (RDRML) was awarded the consent to take an extra 10 cumecs in water when the river was flowing 110 cumecs or higher by an Environment Canterbury-appointed independent panel in 2018.

However, appeals by Fish and Game, Ngāi Tahu and Te Rūnanga o Arowhenua to the Environment Court had delayed the consent’s implementation.

RDRML chief executive Tony McCormick confirmed on Tuesday it had decided to relinquish the consent, describing it as “positive news” and adding they would make a further statement later.

Good. The consent would have undermined the river’s ecosystem by lowering “flushing flows” and allowing excess sediment to build up, harming aquatic life. Surrendering it means at least things aren’t going to get any worse. But it should only be the first stage. Currently, irrigators take over 70% of the river’s total median annual flow: of the 74 m/s median annual flow at Klondyke, the Rangitata Diversion Race takes 30.7 m/s, Rangitata Water takes another 20 m/s, and a large dairy farm 1.5 m/s (figures from DoC). Which doesn’t leave an awful lot of river left by the time it reaches the sea (though some of it is used for electricity generation and ends up in the Rakaia instead).

Worse, this water is used for dairy farms, which fundamentally change the nature of the Canterbury plains while spewing methane into the air and shit and poisonous nitrates into the river and the water table, destroying the climate, making rivers unswimmable, and endangering public health. If we want to protect our environment and ourselves, we need to scale this back. And the easiest way to do that is give the river back: remove or massively scale back those consents, and let the rivers flow.

28 comments on “No Right Turn: Give the Rangitata back ”

  1. Tricledrown 1

    Not to mention cliptosporidiam spread from dairy cows no body can swim in the rivers.

  2. Sanctuary 2

    What, and let all that water just uselessly run into the sea???

    • Foreign Waka 2.1

      Yes, but only useless to you. Nature does not work for you, you are lucky that nature is supporting you.

      Attitude, attitude…

  3. Ad 3

    South Canterbury is by a long way the region with the highest levels of bowel cancer in New Zealand.

    New Zealand itself has one of the highest levels of bowel cancer in the world.


    The data provided is up to 2013, so it would be great if someone could find more up-to-date data broken by region.

    • Pat 3.1

      Are you suggesting a link between NZs bowel cancer rates and a 2018 water take consent for the Rangitata?

      • Ad 3.1.1

        The causal link goes from water take from dairy irrigation.

        • Pat

          Water has been taken from the Rangitata since the 1930s …long before the dairy conversion boom in the 2000s

          • Ad

            This consent was issued in 2018. So your point is not relevant.

            What is relevant is the growing body of evidence that dairying is a major cancer-causing industry. There wasn't scope for it in the consents, but South Canterbury has Erin Brockovich written all over it.

            • Pat

              South Canterbury ???….youre an idiot

              • Ad

                Fuck off. All you had to do was click on the link to the data atlas provided, which shows the Rangitata as the northern boundary for this data catchment.

                Next time come armed with facts not attitude.

      • Barfly 3.1.2

        https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/health/300236199/bowel-cancer-risk-from-nitrates-in-water-could-affect-up-to-800000 water take — dairying increase — more fertiliser –nitrate pollution and ….bingo

        • Pat

          if you showed an increase in bowel cancer in MID CANTERBURY in 20 years time you may have a point….whatever the cause of NZs high bowel cancer rates is/are it sure as hell isnt a 2018 consent for a flood water take from the Rangitata …nor dairying as it has only been a Mid Canterbury phenomenom for the past 20 years….there were virtually none prior.

          And no, Im not a dairy farmer and think the environment has been changed for the worse by dairying in Mid Canterbury

          • Ad

            You sound remarkably like ECAN in 2018.


            Still, like all massive cancer trends, the best thing to do is just wait and see what happens.

            • Pat

              Go and do some research….south canterbury has never had anything to do with the Rangitata Diversion irrigation scheme.

              You have no idea what you are talking about

          • Grumpy

            There is some relationship between nitrate concentration and bowel cancer and there is some relationship between irrigation/dairying and high nitrates.

            However the Ashburton/Rangitata area has had historic high nitrate levels going back well before irrigation and dairying. Nitrates live in the ground and have been formed over hundreds of thousands of years.

            • Pat

              High nitrates and DDT….the point however that any change made in 2018 is not going to impact yet..especially if its not in the region whose historical cancer rates are quoted as problematic.

              Foolish claims like that do more harm than good as they discredit valid concerns.

              • Grumpy

                Correct. It is dangerous if not foolish to draw a link between Dairying, nitrate levels and cancer.

  4. Pat 4

    "An irrigation company’s decision to relinquish its consent to take extra water from the Rangitata River when in high flow has been hailed as a “gift to New Zealand” by anglers.Rangitata Diversion Race Management Ltd (RDRML) was awarded the consent to take an extra 10 cumecs in water when the river was flowing 110 cumecs or higher by an Environment Canterbury-appointed independent panel in 2018."

    Now there may good reason to consider water take from the Rangitata river but I struggle to see a case in this piece…110 cumecs is almost a flood condition and the consent only applies then, and the water is diverted to storage….any diversion is minuscule at that flow rate.


  5. Stuart Munro 5

    Different peeps – but the Selwyn river should be coming back too.

    Under the Gnats ECan was short for “ECan do any damned thing ‘e wants”

    • Grumpy 5.1

      The Selwyn should be coming back but no sign so far. The Central Plains Water scheme is supposed to feed into the catchment. We will see.

  6. Foreign Waka 6

    Perhaps there needs to be a closer look at the correlation of water pumped for export and the water table lowering and the water quality under and above ground. The eco system is connected unlike those rampant profit seekers peripheral vision with their me me me attitude.

  7. As some one who regularly crosses the Rangitata it is noticeable the difference in water flow and the lack of a flush to clean the river out. The return of the consent will hopefully improve the health of the river.

    When we do water test to check if the water to residence's meets the drinking water standard for farms we service it is always nitrates that show up and surprisingly coliforms only show in a small percentage.

    It amazed me when I heard of farms that use more than 250kg per hectare as more than that is a waste of money. There is an old publication which I read when I had a rush of blood to the head and went dairy farming called I think Nitrogen Fertilizers in NZ which outlines what is good practice but seems to of been forgotten or ignored.

    The first farm I was on about 30yrs ago the sharemilker there said nitrates will become a problem like in Europe which gives tells us that the problem about nitrates has been known for a long time and especially in the Pukekohe area.

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