The Hawkes Bay Regional Council has given a conditional yes to supporting the Ruataniwha Water Storage Scheme.
A $275 million dam and irrigation scheme proposed for Central Hawke’s Bay is a step closer after Hawke’s Bay Regional Council voted this morning to invest up to $80 million in the scheme provided a number of conditions are met over coming months.
Regional councillors voted 6-3 in favour of proceeding with the investment of ratepayer money in the dam based on conditions including that investment is finalised from other investors, contracts are signed with water users to take a sufficient amount of initial water from the scheme and “satisfactory” environmental conditions are handed down from a board of inquiry that has been considering consents for the project.
Debbie Hewitt, representing Central Hawke’s Bay on the regional council, said the project would address farming and social issues in the district and leave a legacy for future generations. . .
One of the conditions is getting farmer support, which ought to be a no-brainer:
A Central Hawke’s Bay farmer is delighted the regional council will put millions into the Ruataniwha Dam scheme. . .
Jeremy Greer’s family operate an 800 hectare farm, but can only water up to 200 hectares at the moment.
Mr Greer says today’s decision is another step in the right direction.
He says it will ensure drought protection and increase production. . .
A number of conditions still have to be met, including finding other investors and ensuring local farmers sign up to the scheme.
Council chair Fenton Wilson says he’s confident they will come to the table with their wallets.
“The community’s got to do its bit now. We’ve got to get commitment and signed contracts unconditional for minimum 40 million cubic metres of water and that work’s ongoing.”
Wilson says this shows other investors and farmers the scheme can be a viable project.
The dam still has to clear several hurdles before it gets the full green light – including the Board of Inquiry’s final decision due in the next 48 hours. . .
Hawke’s Bay Federated Farmers’ Kevin Mitchell says farmers look to the next generation when it comes to investing in the land.
“Droughts are coming more frequent on this side of the East Coast of the North Island.
“To have that water available to build resilience in your farming systems is absolutely vital.”
Droughts have a devastating impact on farms, farmers and those who work for, service and supply them.
But production isn’t just reduced in bad years. When a region is drought-prone farmers have to farm conservatively because they can’t rely on getting enough rain when they need it.
A reliable water supply with irrigation not only provides insurance against droughts it will also enable much better production in average and good years.
There are environmental benefits too – irrigation helps reduce soil erosion and can ensure minimum flows in waterways.