Soil moisture levels are plummeting across the Waikato and South Auckland, according to the Waikato Regional Council.
Councillors were split 7-7 on a motion to approve; the measure was passed on the casting vote of the chairperson Paula Southgate.
It means the ‘Healthy Rivers: Plan for Change/Wai Ora: He Rautaki Whakapaipai’ project’s proposed plan change is now due to be formally publicly notified this month.
Specific ideas for boosting river health, as suggested in the proposed plan change, include:
- getting more stock out of waterways
- new resource consent requirements (publicly notified) and introducing extra restrictions for land use intensification
- additional requirements for forestry harvesting
- management of direct discharges to the rivers
- targeting particular catchments for special attention
- nitrogen discharge benchmarking and requirements for high emitters to reduce discharges
- requirements for greater planning of land use activities.
Council chief executive Vaughan Payne acknowledges that suggested new land use restrictions – which would make it harder for people to more intensively farm land – had caused concerns, as will their taking effect as soon as the plan is publicly notified.