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Thousands Visit Project Aqua Office & Info. Centre

Media Release
For immediate release: Thursday 15 January 2004

Thousands Visit Project Aqua Office And Information Centre

More than 2000 people have now visited the new Project Aqua Office and Information Centre since it opened at 12 Bledisloe Street in Kurow in mid-December.

“We have been delighted with the positive interest shown in the new centre,” says Meridian Energy spokesman Alan Seay. “People visiting the centre are saying they want to see what Project Aqua is all about.”

Many locals have visited the centre and brought their visitors with them, including relatives and friends from Britain, Australia, and the USA. People on holiday in the Waitaki have also visited the centre to find out about the proposed scheme.

Project Aqua is a proposed canal-based hydro-electric scheme in the Waitaki Valley near Oamaru. It would generate enough renewable electricity to power the equivalent of about 375,000 households in an average rainfall year and 250,000 households in a very dry year such as occurred in 1992 (a 1 in 20 year event).

Project Aqua must be commercially viable and environmentally sustainable for Meridian Energy to proceed even if all the required consents and approvals are granted. This means it must cost less than other forms of generation (fit within the 4.5 – 5 cent per kilowatt range). A major potential benefit of Project Aqua is that it could enable irrigation in the Waitaki district.

The new Project Aqua Office and Information Centre was opened on 16 December last year. It houses a wide selection of resources and material on the scheme, as well as three new Information Officers trained to answer questions.

Some of the common themes that people have asked about Project Aqua include: the size and location of canals, the intake structure at Kurow, construction effects, employment and local benefits, environmental effects and proposed mitigation, the proposed lakes at Duntroon and Kurow, landscaping, water issues, and transmission.

“The new centre aligns with Meridian’s intention to make as much information as possible about Project Aqua easily accessible to anyone interested in the scheme,” says Alan Seay.

Since lodging its consent applications for the proposed scheme on 14 May 2003, Meridian Energy has distributed more than 10,000 Project Aqua reports, handled thousands of phone calls and met with hundreds of individuals and groups to discuss the proposal, even before the new centre was opened.

“The future of New Zealand’s power supply is a critical issue that needs to be discussed. But in order to have the debate about where our future power supply will come from, people need to be informed about the issues. That’s why we are delighted that so many people want to talk to us and learn about Project Aqua,” says Alan Seay.


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