Water Conservation Orders have been in the news lately, with the passing in March of the Environment Canterbury (Temporary Commissioners and Improved Water Management) Bill, which environmental and recreational groups claim fundamentally undermines Water Conservation Orders (WCO) in Canterbury, by giving the newly appointed ECan Commission the decision-making power on WCO applications, placing a greater emphasis on “sustainable management” rather than protection, and removing the right to appeal the decision (except on points of law).

So, what is the history and origins of the WCO, the so-called “national park” of rivers? (more…)