Irrigation New Zealand

IrrigationNZ says at a time when international investment in water storage is increasing, Tasman District Council’s decision not to support the development of Waimea Community Dam is short sighted and will negatively affect the local economy and residents.

Northington Partners, anindependent investment bank and business advisory firm, forecast that not building the Waimea Dam could result in nearly $1 billion being lost from the Tasman and Nelson economy over the next 25 years.

The Council says that urban and rural water users will be facing significant water use cuts from this summer, following today’s decision.

“The dam was the most cost effective way to provide a secure water supply for urban residents, business and irrigators. Other options have been considered but they are more expensive. By turning down the dam the Council has lost the option to share the cost of this much needed infrastructure with the region’s growers,” says Andrew Curtis, IrrigationNZ Chief Executive.

“This decision is very short sighted when both Europe and Australia are suffering from severe droughts as a result of climate change.”

“Internationally there is huge government investment in water infrastructure occurring as other countries recognise that climate change and growing populations will put increasing pressure on water availability. California voted in 2014 to spend $7.5 billion on new water storage projects. In Australia over the past decade the government has spent $15 billion on rural and urban water projects and it plans to spend a further $2.5 billion on water storage.”

“Climate change will mean rainfall is more variable in the future with more frequent droughts as well as more intense rainfall events. The dam would have allowed water to be stored when its plentiful to provide a reliable supply for residents and protect jobs in horticulture, construction, food processing and other industries that rely on access to water as well supplementing the Waimea River’s flow," he adds.

The decision could also impact on New Zealander’s access to produce with Waimea Irrigators saying that without a reliable water supply, some growers will be re-evaluating their future in Tasman. The district is currently New Zealand’s second largest producer of apples and berries, as well as a major producer of vegetables like broccoli, cabbages, lettuce and cauliflowers.