Video | Agriculture | Confidence | Economy | Energy | Employment | Finance | Media | Property | RBNZ | Science | SOEs | Tax | Technology | Telecoms | Tourism | Transport | Search

 

Water Storage critical to New Zealand’s big future


OPED for immediate Publication
May 9 2011

Water Storage critical to New Zealand’s big future

Conor English, Chief Executive Officer
Federated Farmers

New Zealand is big. Our land mass is 67 percent the size of Germany’s, 72 percent of Japans and bigger than the United Kingdom. Our coast is longer than mainland USA and our economic zone around two thirds the size of Australia. Critically our skies give us abundant fresh water, our land fertile soils, and our total exclusive economic zone significant mineral resource. So while some consider Australia to be lucky, so are we.

But the economic reality is that we are hanging onto the cliff face of first world status by our finger tips. If we are to climb that cliff face as a country, we need to face the fact that we must produce stuff and ideas to sell to the world to pay some bills and maintain our standard of living. We must better utilize and harvest our resources and we need to invest in and leverage productive assets, people and ideas.

Yes we do need to build on our core strength, agriculture. When we look at the diamond that is New Zealand, it is agriculture that sparkles brightest. But we can’t remain a one trick pony. We need more big intellectual companies based here in New Zealand, we need investment in broadband - rural broadband in particular, and we need to carefully harvest our significant mineral resources. And critically we need more water storage.

Farmers are the custodians of our land and water resources, which they harvest for the benefit of their families, community and country, and nurture for future generations. Waters allocation, management, quality and storage are all in play right now. Indeed the decisions that are made in the next couple of years will be felt for the next half century. If we get that wrong, our success as a nation, will be constrained. If we get the balances right, then our ability to harvest and benefit from one of our critical comparative advantages will be enhanced. There are some complex decisions to make.

Water quality, which is a critical factor in the urban / rural relationship, needs smart solutions, based on objective science informing practical, economic solutions, not political rhetoric. Significant money and effort is now going into this by our agricultural sector.

Water storage will enable “more fish and less drought” and build resilience into our economy and environment. In the city you don’t have to wait for the rain to fall before you have a cup of tea. In the city, we have access to water at the right place at the right time. In the city we store water, we bank it, we save it on a rainy day so we can use it when it isn’t raining. So why not do more of the same in the country?

It’s not that New Zealand is running out of water, it’s that water is running out of New Zealand.

The Greeks, Romans and Egyptians built their civilisations on water. We know from the Opua dam that the environment, recreational values, the economy and community spirit are all enhanced by using smart water storage strategies. I’ve yet to meet a fish that doesn’t like water 365 days a year.

Government studies of that project tell us that every 1000ha irrigated creates 27 jobs and injects $7.7 million into the local economy. With 30 potential projects covering around 1 million Ha up the eastern seaboard that’s about $7.5 billion extra revenue for the country each year, and 27,000 new jobs. Over a decade that’s $75 billion extra cash for the country, if all potential projects came to 100% fruition, which is unlikely however.

New Zealand’s recession was kicked off by the 2008 drought, not the Global Financial Crisis. MAF estimated that it cost about $2.8 billion. To put into context, the Rugby World Cup, which will be great, is expected to have something like a billion dollar benefit, so the 2008 drought cost the equlivent of the benefit from 3 RWCs.

Whatever your views on global warming, if you think it is going to get hotter it’s not a bad idea to store some water! This is particularly the case if 65% of your export dollars are from the primary sector. Those countries who have water storage infrastructure who will navigate though potential practical challenges the best.

So if we want to set our nation up for success for the next half century, and to improve our economic and environmental resilience, then all involved - including the government - need to get focussed on achieving smart water storage strategies. I hope they are up for it.

CONOR ENGLISH
CHIEF EXECUTIVE


© Scoop Media

 
 
 
Business Headlines | Sci-Tech Headlines

 

Industry Report: Growing Interactive Sector Wants Screen Grants

Introducing a coordinated plan that invests in emerging talent and allows interactive media to access existing screen industry programmes would create hundreds of hi-tech and creative industry jobs. More>>

ALSO:

Ground Rules: Government Moves To Protect Best Growing Land

“Continuing to grow food in the volumes and quality we have come to expect depends on the availability of land and the quality of the soil. Once productive land is built on, we can’t use it for food production, which is why we need to act now.” More>>

ALSO:

Royal Society: Calls For Overhaul Of Gene-Technology Regulations

An expert panel considering the implications of new technologies that allow much more controlled and precise ‘editing’ of genes, has concluded it’s time for an overhaul of the regulations and that there’s an urgent need for wide discussion and debate about gene editing... More>>

ALSO:

Retail: Card Spending Dips In July

Seasonally-adjusted electronic card spending dipped in July by 0.1 percent after being flat in June, according to Stats NZ. Economists had expected a 0.5 percent lift, according to the median in a Bloomberg poll. More>>

ALSO:

Product Stewardship: Govt Takes More Action To Reduce Waste

The Government is proposing a new way to deal with environmentally harmful products before they become waste, including plastic packing and bottles, as part of a wider plan to reduce the amount of rubbish ending up in landfills. More>>

ALSO:

Earnings Update: Fonterra Sees Up To $675m Loss On Writedowns

“While the Co-op’s FY19 underlying earnings range is within the current guidance of 10-15 cents per share, when you take into consideration these likely write-downs, we expect to make a reported loss of $590-675 million this year, which is a 37 to 42 cent loss per share." More>>

ALSO: