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7 Geothermal Module

7.6 Regional Rules

7.6.2 Takes and Discharges in Limited Development Systems

All the rules in this section shall apply to a Limited Development Geothermal System as mapped in section 7.9 of this plan and to geothermal water that has been shown to be strongly hydrologically connected to that mapped Limited Development Geothermal System.

Summary of Rules for Takes and Discharges in Limited Development Systems:

- Atiamuri, Tokaanu-Waihi-Hipaua

flowchart

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

Any:

  1. Take or use of geothermal energy or water within a Limited Development Geothermal System, or
  2. Discharge of water and associated naturally occurring contaminants into water, or onto or into land, arising from the taking of geothermal water from within a Limited 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.

 

7.6.2.2 Permitted Activity Rule – Small Takes of Geothermal Water and Energy and Associated Discharges in Limited Development Geothermal Systems

Any:

  1. Take or use of geothermal energy or water within a Limited Development Geothermal System, or
  2. Discharge of water and associated contaminants into water, or onto or into land, arising from the taking of geothermal energy or water from within a Limited 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.
  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. 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 natural surface water body.
  11. There shall be no discharge of geothermal water into any natural fresh water body.

 

7.6.2.3 Discretionary Activity Rule – Larger Takes of Geothermal Water and Energy and Associated Discharges in Limited Development Geothermal Systems

Except as permitted or regulated by Rules 7.6.2.1, 7.6.2.2, 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 Limited Development Geothermal System, or
  2. Discharge of geothermal water and associated contaminants within a Limited Development Geothermal System:

 

is a 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 15,000 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 2,500 gigajoules per day.
  5. The application shall include a proposed comprehensive programme monitoring the effects of the proposed operation on the hydrodynamics of the geothermal system and in particular on the characteristics of Significant Geothermal Features.

 

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 cultural values of tangata whenua are recognised including their kaitiaki role with the geothermal resource;
  2. The extent to which significant adverse effects on Significant Geothermal Features are avoided, remedied or mitigated;
  3. 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;
  4. The extent to which the applicant’s proposed monitoring programme is adequate in ensuring that effects of the operation on the hydrodynamics of the geothermal system, particularly the characteristics of Significant Geothermal Features, are detected.
  5. The extent to which the use of geothermal energy and water is efficient;
  6. The extent to which distribution of geothermal water or energy to secondary uses and users is accommodated where appropriate and provision is made for potential future uses, especially those that have high productive efficiency and provide a community benefit;
  7. The extent to which the following factors are taken into account:
    • the severity of impact of the adverse effects on overlying structures (the built environment) and other natural and physical resources.
    • relevant international best practice
    • 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.
  8. 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;
  9. The effect on the sustainability of the Geothermal System from loss of the energy and fluid contained in the discharge;
  10. The extent to which remediation of significant adverse effects is achievable;
  11. The extent to which provision has been made for downstream users of the discharge;
  12. The expected duration of the activity;
  13. Whether the discharge is the best practicable option.

 

7.6.2.4 Non-Complying Activity Rule – Other Takes and Discharges of Geothermal Water in Limited Development Geothermal Systems.

Except as permitted or regulated by Rules 7.6.2.1, 7.6.2.2, 7.6.2.3, 3.3.4.11, and Rules within sections 3.5.8 and 3.8, any take or discharge of geothermal water and associated contaminants in a Limited 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 8.1.2.1 and 8.1.2.2 of this Plan.

 

Explanation and Principal Reasons for Adopting Rules 7.6.2.1 to 7.6.2.4
Rules 7.6.2.1 to 7.6.2.4 establish the regulatory regime for takes and associated discharges from Limited Development Geothermal Systems. These rules stem from the Policies in Section 3.7 of the RPS and Section 7.4 of this Plan.

Each rule addresses both the take and discharge of geothermal energy and water so that in most cases users do not have apply for separate consents for take and discharge of the same water.

Both existing and new small-scale activities are permitted under Rules 7.6.2.1 and 7.6.2.2, subject to limits on the allowable scale of activity. Rule 7.6.2.2 allows takes of up to 15 tonnes per day of surface water and 30 tonnes per day of ground water from Limited Development Systems, together with associated discharges. Activities of this scale generally have much smaller adverse effects than larger developments.

As well as restricting the scale of existing uses, Rule 7.6.2.2 requires in condition i) that discharges are by soakage or reinjection. 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. These conditions are considered necessary to ensure that the viability of Limited Development Systems and their associated significant surface features are sustained (as required by RPS Section 3.7.2.2). In condition h), this rule allows for a daily discharge greater than the take to enable some flexibility of stored fluid.

Existing and new uses that cannot comply with Rules 7.6.2.1 and 7.6.2.2 are regulated as discretionary activities under Rule 7.6.2.3, on the basis that a case by case assessment is required of whether these activities should be allowed to continue.

Through Rules 7.6.2.2 and 7.6.2.3 the use of down-hole heat exchangers is promoted because it results in no loss of water, and less loss of heat, than the taking of water and subsequent discharge into the environment.

Rule 7.6.2.3 allows 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 7.9.2 of this Plan.

The thresholds set as standards and terms are based upon the limited existing knowledge of the two Limited Development Systems. Where an applicant can demonstrate on the basis of further research that some higher level of abstraction can occur without conflicting with the objective and policies applicable to Limited Development Systems, such proposals may be considered favourably as a non-complying activity in accordance with the Resource Management Act.

Any other take or discharge is non-complying under Rule 7.6.2.4.

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