Environment Minister Nick Smith says an application for a Water Conservation Order (WCO) for the Waikoropupū Springs has been accepted and referred to a special tribunal.
“The Waikoropupū Springs are the largest freshwater springs in New Zealand and contain the clearest water measured anywhere in the world. These iconic waters are well deserving of consideration for a WCO - the highest protection possible for a water body,” Dr Smith says.
WCOs are the equivalent of National Park status for a water body. There are 15 WCOs nationwide covering 13 rivers and two lakes. This is the first application advanced for a springs. A WCO overrides any other planning instrument and requires the identified features or characteristics to be protected in perpetuity.
The applicants are Ngāti Tama Ki Te Waipounamu Trust and Andrew Yuill.
Dr Smith says the original application for a WCO was received in December 2013 but had insufficient information. He says he encouraged the applicants to resubmit the application with additional information, and this was received in April.
Public submissions on the WCO application will be called after the Minister has appointed the special tribunal. The tribunal hears submissions and makes a recommendation to the Minister for the Environment, which can be appealed to the Environment Court. The Minister makes the final decision on the WCO.