“Just as Auckland intends to slake its thirst from the Waikato River so Waikanae, Raumati and Paraparaumu are looking outside their own water catchment boundaries to the Otaki River,” notes the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, Dr Morgan Williams.
The Otaki River well-field and pipeline proposal has raised considerable debate within and among the various communities living along the Kapiti Coast. Who owns the water? How to decide between the conflicting needs and wants of various interest groups, agencies, tangata whenua and the ecosystems dependent on the natural flows? What of the needs of future generations?
Fresh clean water is fundamental to the well being of all communities and there is a worldwide focus on its supply and quality. The United Nations warns of an impending worldwide water crisis and the need to build a new ethic of global stewardship.
“Low rainfall, very high per capita usage and a heavy reliance on a single source of supply, the Waikanae River, have created the Kapiti Coast’s own water crisis” says Dr Williams with the release of his investigation into the management of urban water systems on the Kapiti Coast.
“The solutions must meet the public health needs of growing communities, support commercial development and provide for the ecological health of the environment. We need to recognise that fresh water is becoming a scarce and valuable resource. Simple engineering solutions, tapping into new and more remote sources of supply, are no longer appropriate.”
The report Whose water is it? recommends that the Kapiti Coast District Council develop and implement a long-term strategy for water, wastewater and storm-water management. The strategic plan should set out the Kapiti community’s vision for urban water systems, recognise the role of tangata whenua as kaitiaki, and promote innovative solutions to increase efficiency of water use, emphasise recycling, and address ecological sustainability.