Irrigation New Zealand

Picture: PDU Under-Secretary Fletcher Tabuteau talking to media following today's announcement

The announcement was made this morning that Provincial Growth Fund (PGF) funding will see Wairarapa’s much needed Water Resilience Strategy and the Wakamoekua Community Water Storage Scheme (WCWSS) progress to the next stage.

IrrigationNZ Chief Executive Elizabeth Soal said it was a step in the right direction towards the future of water storage in New Zealand.

“It’s great for the Wairarapa region and reflects how important water storage is not only for the Wairarapa but also for New Zealand.”

“Water storage is crucial to the resilience of New Zealand, as weather extremes become more common under climate change and the importance of looking after such a precious resource is highlighted. Water storage projects such as this will benefit both the environment and communities” said Ms Soal.

The PGF funding consists of $7 million towards the WCWSS and $110,000 towards the Water Resilience Strategy. This follows an earlier funding announcement in May 2019 of $800,000 towards the storage project which allowed for initial community engagement, consent planning, and further fundraising.

Today’s funding announcement means the project can now progress with the work required to complete feasibility studies, lodge a resource consent application and prepare for construction to start. The storage project, when ultimately constructed, will help reach the goal of providing a resilience of freshwater supply to Wairarapa.

Wairarapa Water Ltd (WWL) chairman Tim Lusk, is excited the projects have received the additional funding from the PGF.

“The announcement today now puts Wairarapa Water Limited in a strong financial position to finalise the community water storage project development phases to meet the high expectations of our Wairarapa communities and businesses,” Tim Lusk said.

“This very considerable funding by the PGF means we can now engage comprehensively with landowners, iwi, councils, businesses, and the wider community, knowing we have the means to conclude together just what it must look and operate like before we move into construction, which all going well will be in 2023.”

“The target must be stored water available in 2026 said, Mr Lusk”

The need for the Water Resilience Strategy has primarily emerged out of the Wairarapa Economic Development Strategy (WEDS), which positions freshwater supply in the context of community resilience rather than solely rural irrigation.

WWL Chief Executive Robyn Wells, who was also an INZ board member, said she was extremely grateful for the funding injection.

“What’s exciting for me in this project is that we have the opportunity to be a leader in an environment where there is an increasing mismatch between supply and demand driven by community expectations for water allocation and quality; growth in urban populations; desire for the preservation of amenity values; and, a changing climate where hot days, drought and flash flooding will become more prevalent,” said Ms Wells

“This is an environment where the Wairarapa’s water resilience is at stake, and with it, its opportunities to grow – socially, economically and sustainably. What could Wairarapa look like in the mid to late century if we have access to a reliable supply of quality water.”

Further comment:

INZ Communications Manager – Ella Stokes 027 521 1671