River gauge tampering: Ecan washes hands of investigation

Ecan says local farmers accused of water gauge tampering just restoring a channel.

UPDATE

An Environment Canterbury spokesperson has respoonded to further queries about why a landowner interfered with a river channel.

“The work wasn’t necessary but the person responsible thought it was; he did not have our approval and has received a warning not to do this again. He had an incomplete knowledge of how river flow is measured but now he is more informed. This is why we ask people contact us rather than doing things of their own accord.” 

EARLIER STORY

Environment Canterbury has washed its hands of an investigation into river flow tampering.

Fish & Game alleges a truck load of men built a weir on the Pareora River in South Canterbury next to a water level gauge, in an apparent effort to fool the gauge into recording the water level as being higher than it actually was.

The higher level would mean that irrigation was allowed to continue.

Witnesses identified the men as local farmers.

But Ecan says there was nothing untoward going on.

The men were merely trying to reinstate an existing diversion channel that became partially blocked,” according to Marty Mortiaux, regional manager – RMA monitoring & compliance.

Ecan says a flood split the main channel.

The purpose of the diversion channel was to link the two main river braids to provide the most accurate measurement at the downstream water level meter.

Ecan did not explain why private landowners were carrying out the work or whether they had been authorised to so.

c.hutch@clear.net.nz