"State-owned power company Meridian Energy has criticised the Canterbury Water Management Strategy as disproportionately slanted towards the environment.
The strategy, which arose from the droughts of the late 1990s, is in its fourth stage.
At a hearing in Christchurch on Thursday, Meridian's resources policy manager Hamish Cuthbert said water sustainability required a balance of social and economic factors.
"It's seriously flawed by what's not there," he said. "The principles have a highly environmental focus ... which are disproportionate.
"It would lead to conservation ... but not a sustainable outcome.""
It would be funny if it wasn't so sad. The big barrier to creating sustainable approaches to energy and the need for dams, is the attitude expressed by Meridian. Conservation is a sustainable outcome, in fact it is the only sustainable outcome.