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River Management

Marlborough's Wairau River and its tributaries provide groundwater resources for agricultural and other uses on the Wairau floodplain, but also place Blenheim and its surrounding areas at risk of flood.

Flood control works have been part of local history for 100 years. The Marlborough District Council continues to upgrade and maintain these works. The Wairau floodplain is stopbanked to prevent floodwaters breaking out on to it. The Omaka, Ōpaoa and Taylor Rivers are also stopbanked.

Wairau River Wairau2

A flood from these rivers is rated as having less than a 10% chance of breaking out of the floodways within the next 10 years, ie; one flood in 100 years. Associated with the flood control works are extensive drainage works for Blenheim and for much of the low-lying land to its east that is less than 3 m above sea level. Flood control works for the Waitohi and Waikawa Streams through urban Picton are to a similar high standard.

major river systems in Marlborough: Pelorus, Wairau and AwatereElsewhere in Marlborough, flooding is either much less an issue or it is uneconomic to carry out flood control work. River works outside the Wairau floodplain area are, therefore, on a lesser scale.

The map shows the major river systems in Marlborough: Te Hoiere/Pelorus, Wairau and Awatere.

Wairau River Gravel Extraction Policies

Council has reviewed its gravel extraction policies in order to best manage its flood control objectives and maintain a supply of gravel to construction industries.  A mix of regulatory and pricing tools has been proposed.   

The latest review of the policies was in 2012 with changes to allocation and charges effective from 1 March 2013.

To extract gravel you require a permit.  Please contact Kevin McFall for permit information Ph: 03 520 7400.

PDF Document.Marlborough Rivers Gravel Extraction Strategy (3.15 Mb)

The Proposed Marlborough Environment Plan enables Council to extract gravel in a Floodway Zone (see maps below), to facilitate carrying out its river control and drainage functions.

The Assets and Services Department operates a gravel permit system which enables third parties to extract gravel on behalf of the Council. Permits are granted subject to conditions, including relevant standards in the Proposed Marlborough Environment Plan and in accordance with the Marlborough Rivers Gravel Extraction Strategy. Please contact Kevin McFall for permit information, Ph: 03 520 7400.

PDF Document.Map of Floodway Zones (1.36 Mb)

Application for Permit to Extract Gravel. Application for Permit to Extract Gravel *(1 Mb)

For gravel extraction outside of the Floodway Zones a resource consent is required.

Go to the Resources Consents page for information on applying for a resource consent

Enquiries regarding this process should be directed to the Duty Planner Ph: 03 520 7400 or email

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