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Peter Lowe at the Hinds River MAR site.

By John Keast

A trust proposed to take over from Ashburton’s Managed Aquifer Recharge Governance Group will seek funding from the Provincial Growth Fund to support ongoing work.

Governance group members addressed the Ashburton council on Tuesday.

Council has endorsed the forming of the trust, approved the mayor as a settlor and that the mayor act as the council’s trustee.

Mayor Donna Favel suggested the mayoral appointment, and she was thanked by Peter Lowe, the chair of the leadership group.

He said it was a sign of leadership.

The governance group has been overseeing a trial of managed aquifer recharge in the Hinds catchment.

The trial began in 2016 on council-owned land at the corner of Frasers Road and Timaru Track.

There, surplus consented stockwater from the Rangitata River percolates into the ground – and aquifers.

Since the trial started, another site has been set up near the Hinds River, immediately below the Rangitata Diversion Race, and at 12 other smaller scales sites in the district.

The purpose of the proposed trust is to work with the community to improve the quality and quantity of water in catchment in the district, to reduce or maintain groundwater nutrients, to increase groundwater levels and storage, to improve education, to encourage better management of water resources and to ensure any groundwater replenishment scheme is affordable and cost effective.

The following groups can appoint a trustee – Ashburton council, Environment Canterbury, Arowhenua Runanga of Ngai Tahu, MHV Water, RDR Management Ltd, Central South Island Fish & Game, a representative of irrigation companies, other than MHV Water, Hinds Drainage Liaison Committee, an appointee of the Ashburton Legal Practitioners Society and the Chartered Accountants Institute.

A report to the council said one of the first actions of the new trust would be to confirm funding from the Provincial Growth Fund.

An application was submitted following the PGF’s acceptance of an Expression of Interest.

Mr Lowe said the trust would be formed soon, replacing the governance group.