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7 Geothermal Module

7.6 Regional Rules

7.6.1 Takes and Discharges in Development Systems

Summary of Rules For Takes And Discharges In Development Geothermal Systems:

Horohoro, Mangakino, Mokai, Ngatamariki, Ohaaki, Rotokawa, Wairakei-Tauhara

flow chart

7.6.1.1 Permitted Activity Rule – Small Takes and Associated Discharges of Geothermal Water and Energy from Development Geothermal Systems for Scientific Investigation or Enhancement Purposes

Any:

  1. Take or use of geothermal energy or water within a Development Geothermal System or from geothermal water that has been shown to be strongly hydrologically connected to a Development Geothermal System, or
  2. Discharge of geothermal water and associated naturally occurring contaminants into water, or onto or into land, arising from the taking of geothermal water from within a Development Geothermal System;

 

that is undertaken for the purpose of scientific investigation or enhancement of the geothermal system or associated surface features is a permitted activity subject to the following condition:

  1. The maximum rate at which water can be taken or discharged shall not exceed 1 tonne per day.

 

7.6.1.2 Permitted Activity Rule – Small Takes and Associated Discharges of Geothermal Water and Energy from Development Geothermal Systems

Any:

  1. Take or use of geothermal energy or water within a Development Geothermal System or from geothermal water that has been shown to be strongly hydrologically connected to a Development Geothermal System, or
  2. Discharge of geothermal water and associated contaminants into geothermal water, or onto or into land, arising from the taking of geothermal energy or water from within a Development Geothermal System;

 

is a permitted activity subject to the following conditions:

  1. The maximum rate at which surface water can be taken shall not exceed 15 tonnes per day.
  2. The maximum rate at which heat from surface water can be taken without taking water shall not exceed 3,750 megajoules per day.
  3. The maximum rate at which ground water can be taken shall not exceed 30 tonnes per day.
  4. The maximum rate at which heat from ground water can be taken without taking water shall not exceed 7,500 megajoules per day.
  5. Any take established after 23 August 2003 shall not be located within 100 metres of a Significant Geothermal Feature except for those features that are Recent Sinter or Hydrothermal Eruption Craters containing no geothermal pools or discharging geothermal features in which case the take shall not be located within 20 metres of the feature.
  6. Any discharge established after 23 August 2003 shall not be located within 20 metres of a Significant Geothermal Feature.
  7. Any well constructed after 23 August 2003 for the purposes of taking geothermal ground water shall be at least 20 metres from any other well that exists at the time of construction.
  8. The maximum rate at which water and contaminants can be discharged shall not exceed 45 tonnes per day.
  9. The method of discharge shall be by soakage or reinjection.
  10. There shall be no discharge into any fresh surface water body.
  11. There shall be no discharge of geothermal water into any fresh groundwater body.
  12. Waikato Regional Council (Waikato Regional Council) shall be notified in writing of the activity within one month of the start of the activity or within three months of this rule becoming operative.

 

7.6.1.3 Restricted Discretionary Activity Rule – Medium-sized Takes and Associated Discharges of Geothermal Water and Energy from Development Geothermal Systems

Except as permitted or regulated by Rules 7.6.1.1, 7.6.1.2, 3.3.4.11, and Rules within sections 3.5.8 and 3.8, any:

  1. Take or use of geothermal water or energy from a Development Geothermal System or from geothermal water that has been shown to be strongly hydrologically connected to a Development Geothermal System, or
  2. Discharge of geothermal water and associated contaminants into geothermal water, or onto or into land, arising from the taking of any geothermal water from within a Development Geothermal System;

 

is a restricted discretionary activity (requiring resource consent) subject to the following standards and terms:

  1. The maximum rate at which surface water can be taken or discharged shall not exceed 3,000 tonnes per day.
  2. The maximum rate at which ground water can be taken or discharged shall not exceed 6,000 tonnes per day.
  3. The maximum rate at which heat can be taken from surface water without taking water shall not exceed 750 gigajoules per day.
  4. The maximum rate at which heat can be taken from ground water without taking water shall not exceed 1,500 gigajoules per day.
  5. Any take established after 23 August 2003 shall not be located within 100 metres of a Significant Geothermal Feature except for those features that are Recent Sinter or Hydrothermal Eruption Craters containing no geothermal pools or discharging geothermal features in which case the take shall not be located within 20 metres of the feature.
  6. Any discharge established after 23 August 2003 shall not be located within 20 metres of a Significant Geothermal Feature.
  7. Any well constructed after 23 August 2003 for the purposes of taking geothermal ground water shall be at least 20 metres from any other well that existed at the time of construction.
  8. There shall be no discharge of geothermal water into any fresh water body.

 

Waikato Regional Council (Waikato Regional Council) restricts its discretion to the following matters:

  1. Effects on ground water resources
  2. Effects on the geothermal system, including the location, depth, and volume, rate and temperature of takes and discharges
  3. Effects on geothermal surface features
  4. Effects of subsidence
  5. The risk of hydrothermal eruptions.

 

Advisory Note:

  • Information requirements to enable the assessment of any application under this rule are set out in Section 8.1.2.1 and 8.1.2.2 of this Plan.

7.6.1.4 Discretionary Activity Rule – Large and Other Takes of Geothermal Ground Water and Energy from Development Geothermal Systems

Except as permitted or regulated by Rules 7.6.1.1, 7.6.1.2, 7.6.1.3, 3.3.4.11, and Rules within sections 3.5.8 and 3.8, any take or use of geothermal ground water and energy, within a Development Geothermal System or from geothermal water that has been shown to be strongly hydrologically connected to a Development Geothermal System is a discretionary activity (requiring resource consent), subject to the following standard:

  1. For takes exceeding 6,000 tonnes per day, a draft System Management Plan being prepared and provided to Waikato Regional Council (Waikato Regional Council) as part of the documentation supporting a Resource Consent application in accordance with the Policies and other Methods of this Geothermal Module.

 

Assessment Criteria:
The matters that Waikato Regional Council (Waikato Regional Council) considers in the assessment of a discretionary activity under this rule will include, but not be limited to:

  1. The extent to which the draft System Management Plan addresses the Policies and other Methods of this Geothermal Module;
  2. The extent to which the System Management Plan and Mechanisms (Multiple Operator Agreements such as Steamfield Management Agreements and Field Operation Protocols) will promote coordination and cooperation between consent holders and achieve integrated system management;
  3. The extent to which significant adverse effects on Significant Geothermal Features will be, remedied or mitigated and how this will be achieved;
  4. The extent to which the cultural values of tangata whenua are recognised including their kaitiaki role with the geothermal resource;
  5. The extent to which legal access to land is available to optimise resource use and sustainable management of the system;
  6. The extent to which there is appropriate provision of:
    • reservoir modelling and subsidence modelling
    • data to support the initial extraction rate and production levels
  7. The adequacy of the monitoring programme;
  8. The adequacy of the means by which connection to the system’s hydrological boundary has been determined;
  9. The extent to which the proposed development affects the capacity of the system as a whole and its ability to provide for the reasonably foreseeable needs of present and future generations;
  10. The extent to which the rate and volume of take will be controlled so as to manage the adverse effects on the geothermal system and overlying environment over the long term and achieve sustainable management of the resource;
  11. The extent to which system development maximises the potential of the resource, and does not exclude more efficient uses;
  12. The extent to which distribution of geothermal water or energy to subsequent uses and users is accommodated where appropriate and provision is made within the System Management Plan for potential future uses, especially those that have high efficiency and provide a community benefit;
  13. The adequacy of measures to avoid, remedy or mitigate adverse effects on natural and physical resources including overlying structures (the built environment) Including the extent to which the following factors have been taken into account:
    • the severity of impact of the potential adverse effects on overlying structures (the built environment) and other natural and physical resources.
    • relevant national and international best practice;
    • the known body of information and experience of the particular Geothermal System, including data, information, research, monitoring and survey results and experience;
    • the use of bonds;
    • the practicality and costs of alternative locations or methodologies and the benefits that each option provides
    • the use of a precautionary approach.

 

Advisory Notes:

  • The assessment criteria listed above are to be read in conjunction with the information requirements to enable the assessment of any application under this rule set out in Section 8.1.6.1 of this Plan.
  • Waikato Regional Council (Waikato Regional Council) may amend the System Management Plan on the recommendation of the System Peer Review Panel.
  • Discharge of geothermal ground water and associated contaminants taken under this rule is covered under Rules 7.6.1.5, 7.6.1.6 and 7.6.1.7.

 

7.6.1.5 Discretionary Activity Rule – Reinjection / Injection from Development Geothermal Systems

Except as permitted or regulated by Rules 7.6.1.1, 7.6.1.2, 7.6.1.3, 3.3.4.11, and Rules within sections 3.5.8 and 3.8, any:

  1. discharge of geothermal water and associated contaminants, into land, or geothermal ground water by reinjection / injection, or
  2. discharge of water including contaminants, into geothermal ground water by injection:

 

is a discretionary activity (requiring resource consent) subject to the following standard:

  1. For discharges exceeding 6,000 tonnes per day, a draft Discharge Strategy, forming part of a draft System Management Plan, being prepared and provided to Waikato Regional Council (Waikato Regional Council) as part of the documentation supporting a Resource Consent application in accordance with the Policies and other Methods of this Geothermal Module.

 

Assessment Criteria:
The matters that Waikato Regional Council (Waikato Regional Council) considers in the assessment of a discretionary activity under this rule will include, but not be limited to:

  1. For discharges exceeding 6,000 tonnes per day, the adequacy of the Discharge Strategy to address matters detailed in Section 3.7.2.1 Policy Three of the Regional Policy Statement;
  2. For discharges of less than 6,000 tonnes per day, measures to avoid, remedy or mitigate adverse effects arising from a failure to comply with the standards, terms and conditions in Rule 7.6.1.1 to 7.6.1.3.

 

Advisory Note:

  • Information requirements to enable the assessment of any application under this rule are set out in Section 8.1.6.1 of this Plan.

 

7.6.1.6 Discretionary Activity Rule – Surface Discharges from Development Geothermal Systems

Except as permitted or regulated by Rules 7.6.1.1, 7.6.1.2, 7.6.1.3, 3.3.4.11 and Rules within sections 3.5.8 and 3.8, any discharge of geothermal water, not exceeding 15,000 tonnes per day and not exceeding 2.5 million tonnes per annum, and associated contaminants, onto land or surface waters is a discretionary activity (requiring a resource consent).

Assessment Criteria:
The matters that Waikato Regional Council (Waikato Regional Council) considers in the assessment of a discretionary activity under this rule will include, but not be limited to:

  1. The extent to which heat and contaminant loads, and relative water volume and flow characteristics of the discharge will affect the receiving environment in terms of other uses, its intrinsic and cultural value and its ecological health;
  2. The effect on the sustainability of the geothermal system from loss of the energy and fluid contained in the discharge;
  3. The extent to which the discharge reflects natural discharge prior to development;
  4. The extent to which the discharge mitigates pre-existing adverse effects on a natural geothermal feature;
  5. The extent to which remediation of significant adverse effects is achievable;
  6. The extent to which provision has been made for downstream users of the discharge;
  7. The expected duration of the activity;
  8. Whether the discharge is the best practicable option;
  9. The extent to which the discharge strategy addresses any relevant provisions, including objectives and policies in Chapters 3.4 and 3.7 of the Regional Policy Statement, the Water Module and the Geothermal Module of the Waikato Regional Plan.

 

7.6.1.7 Non-Complying Activity Rule – Other Takes and Discharges of Geothermal Water from Development Geothermal Systems.

Except as permitted or regulated by Rules 7.6.1.1 to 7.6.1.6, 3.3.4.11, and Rules within sections 3.5.8 and 3.8, any take or discharge of geothermal water and associated contaminants from a Development Geothermal System or from geothermal water that has been shown to be strongly hydrologically connected to a Development Geothermal System, is a non-complying activity (requiring resource consent).

Advisory Note:

  • Information requirements to enable the assessment of any application under this rule are set out in Section 8.1.6.1 of this Plan.

 

Explanation and Principal Reasons for Adopting Rules 7.6.1.1 to 7.6.1.7

The regulatory regime for Development Systems recognises the provisions of RPS Section 3.7, which allows for sustainable development in these systems, while avoiding, remedying, or mitigating adverse effects on the geothermal system, the regional geothermal resource, overlying structures (the built environment), and other natural and physical resources. Both existing and new small-scale activities are permitted under Rule 7.6.1.1 and 7.6.1.2, subject to limits on the scale of development. Rule 7.6.1.2 allows takes of up to 15 tonnes per day of surface water and 30 tonnes per day of ground water from Development Systems, together with associated discharges. Activities of this scale generally have much smaller adverse effects than very large-scale development of most of these systems for electricity generation purposes.

As well as restricting the scale of existing uses, Rule 7.6.1.2 requires in condition i) that discharges are by soakage or reinjection. In condition h), this rule allows for a daily discharge greater than the take to enable some flexibility of stored fluid. Condition j) ensures that natural surface water is not contaminated by the discharge and that discharge does not occur to geothermal surface features. Condition k) ensures protection of fresh ground water.

The restricted discretionary activity classification for Rule 7.6.1.3 enables a case by case assessment of whether the requirements of the RMA and the provisions of RPS Section 3.7.2.1 are met by proposed activities of a larger scale, such as direct heat applications including swimming pools, glass-houses, timber drying, and remedying or mitigating adverse effects on Significant Geothermal Features.

Rules 7.6.1.1, 7.6.1.2 and 7.6.1.3 address both the take and discharge of geothermal water so that in most cases users do not have to apply for separate consents for take and discharge of the same geothermal water. Also in these rules, the use of down-hole heat exchangers is promoted because it results in no loss of geothermal water, and less loss of heat, than the taking of geothermal water and subsequent discharge into the environment.

Discretionary Activity Rule 7.6.1.4 for large takes enables appropriate assessment of adverse effects and imposition of conditions.

In contrast to Rules 7.6.1.1, 7.6.1.2 and 7.6.1.3, Rule 7.6.1.4 is for takes only, while Rules 7.6.1.5 and 7.6.1.6 are for discharge only. This enables a hierarchy of rules for takes and discharges.

Rules 7.6.1.4 and 7.6.1.5 allow for ground water takes and discharges by reinjection / injection to be carried out in areas hydrologically connected to the Geothermal System, including outside the defined boundaries of the system as mapped in Section 7.9.1 of this Plan.

Discretionary Activity Rule 7.6.1.6 allows for surface discharges of up to 15,000 tonnes per day and not exceeding 2.5 million tonnes per annum. This rule provides for a range of activities that may:

  • render the geothermal water unsuitable for reinjection / injection; or
  • be for short term operational activities such as well drilling and testing; or
  • include remediation or mitigation of adverse effects on Significant Geothermal Features; or
  • have no significant adverse effects on the receiving environment.

 

Any other take or discharge is non-complying under Rule 7.6.1.7.

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