Irrigation New Zealand

The decision by Tasman District Council to support a revised funding proposal to enable the Waimea community dam to proceed is good news for the district, says IrrigationNZ.

Without a dam, the council says that urban and rural water users will be facing significant water use cuts from this summer. This is due to a plan change introducing higher flow requirements on the Waimea River.

“The dam is the most cost effective way to provide a secure water supply for urban residents, business and irrigators while sharing the cost of this major project,” says Andrew Curtis, IrrigationNZ Chief Executive.

“Tasman growers recently said that without a secure water supply some growers would re-evaluate their future in the district,” Mr Curtis says.

“Already we have forecasts that weather conditions are likely to be warmer than average over the next four years which is likely to drive a higher demand for water. Tourist numbers across New Zealand are also forecast to rise by 1 million by 2023. Tasman is a busy tourist destination and this will also increase demand for water during the peak summer period.”

A Productivity Commission report released this week highlighted that New Zealand’s horticultural land area will need to expand significantly as part of a transition to a low emission economy. The report indicated that shifts in rainfall patterns may make irrigation more important for horticultural production in the future in some regions.

“We need to invest in water storage to allow for the increased horticulture production which the government wants to see in the future,” says Mr Curtis.

“We have seen politicians from Labour, New Zealand First, and National all come out and support the development of the Waimea dam. The dam is an extremely worthwhile candidate for funding from the Provincial Growth Fund, so we now need to see the government get behind the project with financial support,” he adds.