We must follow the fundamental concept of Te Mana o te Wai and prioritise the health of the water bodies, then human health and thirdly people – social economic and cultural well-being.
For surface water, we want to ensure the minimum flow is set to protect a consistent level of fish habitat retention across the region for key fish species that are likely to be present. When a river falls towards its minimum flows, water users will have to restrict or stop taking water.
Our draft allocation limit is based on the difference between mean annual low flow (lowest flow on an average year) and the minimum flow. This helps make sure that allocation is reasonably reliable (available to take) as it can be, given the minimum flow.
In some cases, we have identified an alternative minimum flow, which makes more reliable water available to take, and maintains the habitat of native fish, but may affect trout habitat.
In some cases, we can set a “secondary block” with different minimum flows and allocation limits which mean the water is only available when the river flow is high. This is less reliable but could be used in conjunction with offline storage.