Desperate farmers are organising a public meeting to investigate groundwater extraction permits in the Tomarata/Te Arai district.
This follows reports that bores are running dry for the first time in decades.
Landowner spokesperson Brian Mason is calling on representatives from Auckland Council, as well as the Rodney Local Board and government, to attend the meeting.
Mr Mason’s farm is among those affected. He says in the 25 years he has owned the property, this is the first time that his bores have run dry.
He has been investigating consents in the area and says the level of allocation from the aquifer is “frightening”.
He has had to de-stock and lease grazing paddocks on a neighbouring farm to ensure the welfare of his animals.
“There is a lot of anxiety among farmers at the moment. We hope a meeting will help us understand the ins and outs,” Mr Mason says.
Meanwhile, Te Arai Links has responded to a backlash on social media linking it to the water shortage.
The company, owned by US billionaire Ric Kayne, which has already developed the private luxury golf course Tara Iti in north Te Arai, is now building two further 18-hole golf courses on Ocean View Road, Te Arai South, which will be open to the public.
Late last year the company was granted multiple consents by Auckland Council for at least nine bores and two dams, and a water take from Poutawa Stream.
One bore, on the Te Arai South coastal aquifer, is limited to 11,120 cubic metres a year, while another, on the Pakiri Waitemata aquifer, is for 161,670 cubic metres a year – 32 times greater than the recommended permitted activity. The annual extraction permitted on seven other bores is 211,000 cubic metres annually.
The water will mainly be used for irrigation and revegetation work.
In granting the consents, Council said it did not believe they would adversely affect the ability of the Pakiri Waitemata or neighbouring aquifers to recharge, or adversely impact on surface water. Council’s water allocation specialist had reviewed the application and confirmed that the proposal would not result in bore interference with neighbouring bores, an opinion that is being questioned by neighbouring farmers.
A Te Arai Links spokesperson says the golf course is just as impacted by the drought as farmers and is not the cause of the problem.
“Te Arai Links holds resource consents for eight bores within both the shallow aquifer and the deeper Waitemata aquifer that run beneath the Te Arai South site,” the spokesperson says.
“Like the neighbouring farm is experiencing, a number of Te Arai Links’ shallow bores are not being pumped, as groundwater levels have not recovered from last year’s drought.
“The consents were only granted after extensive analysis, and bores are pumped and monitored in accordance with consent conditions.”
The consents also permit the construction of two dams. The irrigation dam will hold 84,700 cubic metres and the raw water reservoir will hold 342,000 cubic metres.
As well as on-site gauges, Lake Tomarata will be monitored to measure any adverse changes in lake levels or surrounding wetland vegetation.
The date of the public meeting had not been confirmed as Mahurangi Matters went to press.
Note: For comparison, an Olympic sized swimming pool holds 2500 cubic metres.