Dry rivers show need for water storage

20/11/2018

It’s not yet officially summer but two Hawkes Bay Rivers have already dried up:

Some businesses and farmers in Central Hawke’s Bay may start rationing water as parts of the Waipawa and Tukituki rivers are already bone dry.

It comes as figures obtained by RNZ show the top six water consent holders in the district are using more than half of all allocated water from the Ruataniwha Aquifer and rivers.

Surface water user group chair Alastair Haliburton said around 40 consent holders were considering rationing and rostering their water supplies this summer because of concerns that river levels were so low.

His own company, Medallion Pet Foods, which employed 14 people in Waipukurau, could go bust if it does not get enough water.

“If we don’t get water we can’t manufacture and the doors close,” Mr Haliburton said.

Other businesses would be affected by the rationing, he said.

“It means that some crops probably won’t be planted, or yields will be lower, livestock productivity is going to be lower … essentially it means a scaling back of commercial activity.” . . 

Ongaonga farmer Alistair Setter was also worried about getting enough water for his crops this summer.

A section of the Waipawa River near his home dried up in mid-October.

“On a dry year it might dry up around Christmas time but it’s never done this before,” he said. . . 

Over allocation of water from aquifers is widespread.

Rationing is one solution, water storage is another.

Building dams to hold water when it’s not needed to release it when it is needed has both environmental and economic benefits.

Water from dams can be used to maintain minimum flows to protect and enhance water life when there’s insufficient rain. The water can also be used for manufacturing and irrigation.

Irrigation also helps recharge aquifers.

Forecasts warn of more hotter, dryer summers. Central and local governments ought to be planning for that and more water storage should be part of their plans.

Building dams is expensive but so too are the economic, environmental and social costs of dry rivers and water rationing.


Who are denialists now?

24/04/2014

Federated Farmers’ Hawkes Bay president Will Foley asks, who are the denialists now?

RadioLIVE recently ran an online poll asking its listeners if they were frightened of climate change.  To the shock of host Marcus Lush, two-thirds of respondents apparently said no, they’re not.  I would have said yes.

As some groups are cock-a-hoop over tough consent conditions imposed on the Ruataniwha water storage scheme and others think them lax, you have to wonder if this public climate weariness has spread to them too.

What it all means for the viability of Ruataniwha won’t be known until the 700-page decision is crunched but what I know is this.  If the scheme does not progress it won’t affect Green Party MP’s in their air conditioned offices or the paid Wellington staff at Forest & Bird.  They don’t have to worry about the El Nino being talked about for spring.  They don’t have to watch our region increasingly turn into a retirement village while our young drift to Auckland or Australia.  They don’t have to deal with crime since Hawke’s Bay bucked the national trend last year.

I cannot understand why some are so hell-bent on derailing a scheme, which gives Hawke’s Bay its best shot at adapting to a changing climate. Federated Farmers hosted Dr Russel Norman at the South Island’s Opuha water storage scheme a few years ago.  Memories seem short unless you are a politician.

With a medium level of confidence the climate experts say that average rainfall on the east coast will decrease this century.  This will lead to lower flows of the Makaroro River, Waipawa and Tukituki Rivers. The International Panel on Climate Change warns that by 2040, the East Coast can expect to double or even triple the time spent in drought.  This is our future unless we adapt and that means new pastures, crops, technologies and even animals.  Above all, adaption means storing water like that proposed by Ruataniwha.

I will be blunt to make a point; the shit in the Tukituki during summer low flows has mostly been human.  Up to 70 percent of phosphorous loading during low flows had come from the wastewater plants of Waipukurau, Waipawa, Otane and Takapau.  That’s thankfully changing with upgrades in hand while the allocation regime will put more water into the Tukituki during summer.

Ruataniwha could do more.  It could put a quarter of a billion dollars into those towns each year providing councils with the means to meet increasing drinking water standards.  This proves that the environment and economy are flipsides of the same coin.  If there’s no scheme, there’s no dam supported flushing and little additional money to upgrade existing plant.  Can anyone tell me the environmental win in that?

Is it just me or has the media and Ruataniwha opponents overlooked the IPCC’s warning that New Zealand is underprepared for a changing climate.  If anything, there seems to be outright denial since these groups seem to believe our rivers in 2040 will be exactly as they were in 2014.  It is not like the Hawke’s Bay Regional Investment Company got a muppet to look into climate issues and Ruataniwha either.  Victoria University’s Dr James Renwick happens to be an international expert in this field.

While dryland places like North Otago have been averaging twice their normal rainfall over the past five years, in the same timeframe, we’ve had three droughts and it is dragging Hawke’s Bay down.  Out of 67 councils in the last census, Hastings District slipped nine spots to 30th spot, Napier went back one to 31st while Central Hawke’s Bay District dropped to 58th – losing 1.8 percent of its usually resident population.

If Ruataniwha’s consents are so tough they are Clayton’s ones, then it will be a Pyrrhic victory for the environment.  As the climate warms so will the waterways while the volume going into them drops. While that’s great for algae it doesn’t sound so flash for introduced trout or native fish and birds. 

While we can expect less intense rainfall we can store what falls and that’s the beauty of Ruataniwha and the secret recipe of our economy; just add water.

So is Ruataniwha perfect, probably not, but what is?  Do I have the information to make an informed investment decision? That now hinges on the consent conditions attached by the Board of Inquiry.  Yet debating the principle of storing water, given towns and cities do it, is a bit like debating the wisdom of sunblock, dumb. 

If we accept the climate is changing then we need to store water and adapt how we currently do things.  If you deny the climate will ever change then I guess you won’t be at the National Aquarium of NZ on 6 May, where NIWA’s Dr Andrew Tait is talking at 730pm on The Climate and Weather of Hawke’s Bay.

New Zealand makes a tiny contribution to green house gases.

No matter how hard we try to reduce emissions, we are at the mercy of other countries whose emissions are much greater.

We can continue to do our bit but we must also prepare to adapt to whatever nature throws at us.

If, as is predicted, parts of New Zealand will be hotter and drier, then water storage schemes like Ruataniwha which will enable irrigation and maintain minimum flows in rivers, are not just sensible, the economic, environmental and social benefits they provide.


Rural round-up

25/02/2014

Sewer discharge called a disgrace:

A leading Hawke’s Bay wine industry figure says sewerage pouring into Hawke’s Bay’s rivers is a disgrace and potentially damaging to the region’s food and beverage producers.

The group Friends of the Tukituki is threatening legal action if the Central Hawke’s Bay District Council is unable to meet new resource consents for discharging town sewerage into the Waipawa and Tukituki Rivers.

It says the brown smelly discharge currently going into the rivers is unacceptable.

Central Hawke’s Bay District Council says the discharge is within its resource consent, and is confident a new sewage plant will be operating by October which will discharge crystal clear water. . . .

Minister flags Maori land potential:

Minister for Primary Industries Nathan Guy has highlighted the potential for Maori agribusiness as part of the Government’s goal of doubling primary sector exports by 2025.

The ministry now forecasts the sector will earn $36.5 billion this season – up nearly $5 billion on the last forecast six months ago.

Of the 1.5 million hectares of Maori land, only 300,000 hectares is in full production. . .

East Coast first to host Environment Awards – RivetettingKateTaylor:

The first regional dinner has been held for the 2014 Ballance Farm Environment Awards.

The East Coast awards, covering the geographic area of the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council and the Gisborne District Council, were announced in Gisborne on Thursday.  It’s the fourth year of the awards but the first time hosted by Gisborne.

Well done to all those who entered…. and (drum roll please) the winners were Rob and Sandra Faulkner and Bruce and Jo Graham from the 600ha property, Wairakaia, which can be found on both sides of SH2 at Muriwai, south of Gisborne. . .

From the Lip – Pulse of rural NZ at field days – Jamie Mackay:

What follows are some random observations from the past fortnight and some pretty cool stuff that’s happened in rural New Zealand:

1. Tis field-day season. A couple of weeks ago it was the Southern Field Days at Waimumu. This week it’s the Northland Field Days at Dargaville and in a couple of weeks it’s off to Feilding for the Central Districts Field Days.  Between that and Horse of the Year in Hastings, the PPP Farming Conference in Queenstown, the inaugural Taranaki Ballance Farm Environment Awards in New Plymouth and the Rolling Stones in Auckland, I think I’ll just set up camp at the airport over the next six weeks.

I shouldn’t complain though, because it’s at these field days you get the real pulse of rural New Zealand and it’s fair pumping out there at the moment.  Even though I’ve been attending the Southern Field Days for 20 years – it was the first gig I did in radio – Waimumu is still a revelation. It’s a “Mini Me” of Mystery Creek, only better.  It’s Dargaville’s turn to impress this week. . . .

 

 

Milksmart events make farmers do the maths :

MilkSmart events, where farmers are shown practical ways to reduce milking times, are doing the rounds again this year.

DairyNZ have made some changes to the topics after farmer feedback.

The topics include stockmanship, milking efficiency, cow flow, milking skills, mastitis management, smart dairy design, people management, smart water use and more.

Events were run in Morrinsville and Tokoroa last week.

Sessions were designed for one of three experience levels – those who are new to dairying, operational managers, and senior decision makers or farm owners. . . .

Fonterra Announces $32 Million Foodservice Expansion in Eltham:

Fonterra today announced a $32 million expansion of its slice-on-slice cheese capacity at its Collingwood Street site in Eltham, Taranaki.

Slice-on-slice cheese is used extensively in quick service restaurants for products such as hamburgers and sandwiches.

Work will start in early 2014 and is expected to be completed in mid-2015. When complete, the expanded plant will deliver both increased capacity and improved processes to meet growth in global demand from Fonterra’s foodservice customers.

Fonterra Director of Foodservice, René Dedoncker, said the investment demonstrated the Co-operative’s drive to grow its business in the high-value foodservice industry. . . .

BEC Feed Solutions Set to Taste New Zealand Market:

BEC Feed Solutions Australia has cemented its commitment to the New Zealand agricultural market with the opening of a New Zealand trading arm, BEC Feed Solutions NZ.

The move was prompted by New Zealand’s rapidly developing animal production market and thriving dairy industry, which has seen a 70% growth in dairy production over the past 20 years[1]. This, coupled with the dairy industry’s growing preference for supplementary feeding over a solely pasture-based system, provides a sound platform for BEC – Australia’s largest independent animal pre-mix manufacturer – to officially enter the New Zealand market. . .


<span>%d</span> bloggers like this: