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Council grants consents for irrigation

Environment Waikato has granted resource consent for a Tuakau tomato grower to take underground water for irrigation purposes.

Status Produce Limited applied to take 300 cubic metres of water per day from underground source near Geraghty Maber and Harrisville roads, Tuakau. Five submissions were received from neighbours.

The applicant proposed to use groundwater from a recently drilled 179 m deep bore, together with runoff collected in a large sediment pond, to irrigate tomato crops grown in glasshouses in a pumice and rockwool medium.

A total of 4.5 hectares of tomato crop will be irrigated all year round. Peak water demand is from December to March, reducing to 150 cubic metres per day from April to November.

The Hearing Committee was told the aquifer was large, covering an area of about 60 to 70 sq km and most of the existing groundwater use was low compared to bore yields. The company take will increase the allocated takes in the immediate area by about two percent and may cause up to 1.2 m drawdown in neighbouring bores tapping the aquifer.

Drawdown effects in neighbouring bores, tapping the same aquifer as Status Produce Ltd, are considered to be minor given the likely pump depths.

An engineer representing submitters said the static water level of the Hartigan bore had decreased by about 28 m in the last five years, and that the Pelsma bore had been deepened because it ran dry. More testing was requested to determine effects, including cumulative, on neighbouring bores.

Another submitter expressed concern about the volume of groundwater applied for by the applicant, who has a large storage pond to draw water from.

Environment Waikato staff said effects on neighbouring deep bores were likely to be less than minor, given the small drawdown predicted compared with the amount of available drawdown.

The committee said there was sufficient evidence to demonstrate that there was a plentiful groundwater resource. It considered the option of encouraging the applicant to use water in the pond first, only using the bore as a supplement. It accepted that at times during the summer, when the pond was empty, the applicant might need to rely solely on the bore for water needs.

A condition was added limiting the volume of groundwater abstracted (daily and annually), and requiring the consent holder to use water from the sediment pond first during summer, when possible.

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