The Environment Minister’s been “made aware” of an unpublished regional council report leaked to Newsroom
*This story was first published on November 2, 2021*
Canterbury’s oft-criticised water regulator, ECan, is being accused of hiding a damning report which makes allegations against a listed power company and a giant irrigator.
The regional council’s report centres on water stored at Lake Coleridge, operated by NZX-listed Trustpower, and released down the Rakaia River to irrigators – the biggest of which is Central Plains Water.
Report author Wilco Terink, a senior hydrological scientist and data analyst, who worked on the project since its inception in April 2018, resigned from the regional council earlier this year.
In recent weeks, ECan has given copies of what it calls “the draft report” to select parties in response to official information requests. What it has actually released is a sanitised version with many sections removed, including the executive summary, conclusions and recommendations.
The original report – a copy of which has been leaked to Newsroom – makes startling claims.
Dated May 2021, the report says there is evidence the Rakaia’s water conservation order is being breached and consent limits for water-takes are occasionally being exceeded.
The river is being “impeded and manipulated” beyond what was anticipated in the water conservation order – a legal instrument, setting strict management conditions for the Rakaia, described by environmentalists as being like a national park for rivers.
Breaches of the order (WCO) would likely be a national issue.
A spokesman for Environment Minister David Parker said: “ECan has not briefed Minister Parker about any potential breaches of the WCO but he has been made aware of the existence of the draft report. The Minister has not received any application to change the WCO and is not considering an amendment.”