[11 June/Radio NZ]

Hawke’s Bay Regional Council Head, James Palmer, was concerned about a major increase in the amount of water farmers may be able to take for irrigation from a Ruataniwha aquifer. A board of inquiry ruled that an additional 15 million cubic metres of water could be taken from underneath the basin. Eight groups had applied for the water. If the council’s investigations found the water take had a significant impact on the environment, the council would consult the public on the applications and whether they should be issued. He noted the council told the Board of Inquiry into the Ruataniwha Water Storage Scheme that the aquifer was already fully allocated. He added the council had a legal obligation to fulfil the plan. Local farmer, Alistair Setter, said there was evidence the plains were already drying up. He added the council’s own monitored bore levels had also dropped more than 10 metres.