A glimmer of hope has emerged for Tomarata farmers struggling with bores running dry.
A business case is being developed for a monitoring programme in Tomarata to find out exactly how much water is being drawn from the aquifer.
Auckland Council’s Rural Advisory Panel has recommended the programme, following a meeting between Council staff, Councillor Greg Sayers and the Landowners and Contractors Protection Association (LCPA) in June.
According to documents tabled by Council, the LCPA expressed concern that the aquifer had been over-allocated by Council and it has sought a review.
Tomarata landowners have come forward to allow their bores to be monitored for the proposed programme.
Council is aware of 35 bores in Tomarata that access the Tomarata Waitemata aquifer. Of these, only two are required to have resource consent and are therefore monitored.
The remaining bores are permitted to take five cubic metres a day without consent under the Resource Management Act.
Council’s position is that the aquifer is not over-allocated. It estimates that the current take is 57 per cent of the allocation available.
The aquifer was last surveyed in 1994 at which time it was estimated to have 638,000 cubic metres of water available a year.
Council says rainfall between November 2019 and April 2020 was 52 per cent below average – the worst drought in history.
It concludes the drought likely resulted in reduced recharge and thus lower groundwater levels across the region, including Tomarata.
Staff recommended that a programme monitor all groundwater takes for two years.
The programme would cost $130,000.
Cr Sayers says the decision to proceed with the programme will be an operational decision for Healthy Waters.