Water Shortage Procedure
Homai to waiora ki au, kia tu pakari - Pass me the health giving water, that I may stand tall, strong and healthy.
Southland's temperate climate has endowed the region with lush native forests, numerous surface water bodies, diverse wetland ecosystems and productive farmland. However, Southland's apparent abundance of water belies the fact that water shortages are a normal part of Southland's weather patterns and that the region's water resources face pressure from factors such as changing climatic conditions and a dramatic increase in abstractive demand since 1998.
Water shortages can affect the region's environment, agricultural sector, economy and wider society. For example, decreased water quantity (which results in decreased water quality and increased water temperatures) jeopardises the health of both aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems; soil moisture deficits cause a decline in pasture and crop growth and a subsequent deterioration in stock condition, resulting in productivity losses and animal welfare issues in the agricultural sector; industrial operations may use water for processing and cooling as well as for waste assimilation and limitations on these activities may affect productivity; drinking water supplies may also require additional treatment as a result of declining water quality; and finally, the wider public face restrictions on their general water use especially water for washing cars and watering gardens.
Under the Resource Management Act 1991 (RMA) Environment Southland has the responsibility to manage the adverse effects of water resource use. Environment Southland's regional planning documents contain polices, rules and methods to manage pressures on the region's water resources. This document complements these plans by outlining Environment Southland's standard operational procedures during a water shortage. It apportions responsibility to parties within Environment Southland and the Council as a whole; provides a framework for decision-making; aims to enable Environment Southland to maintain open communication with water users;* supports the fair treatment of water users during a water shortage; and enables the Council to fulfil its function under the RMA to avoid, remedy or mitigate adverse effects on the region's water resource.
* The term 'water users' includes those engaged in activities involving water abstraction and/or discharges to water either as a permitted activity or authorised by a resource consent.
The Water Shortage Standard Operating Procedure is currently being updated.