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They're not leaving enough water

1 July 2004

Anyway you look at it, they're not leaving enough water

Green Co-Leader Jeanette Fitzsimons says comparing Trustpower's Wairau proposal to Project Aqua is valid, despite the company's claims to the contrary.

Trustpower generation development manager Judith Magyari has questioned the Green Party's comparison of the two projects and the figures it used to describe the amount of water being taken from the Wairau.

"When it comes to water in a river, what is really important is what is being left behind," said Ms Fitzsimons, the Green Party's Energy and Conservation Spokesperson.

"While Trustpower's canal would take no more than 40 cumecs from the Wairau, their own published flow regime states that during the driest part of the year, when the water is most needed to maintain the habitat, they would leave a minimum of 10 cumecs. On that basis, if the river were running at 50 cumecs, they would be taking 80 per cent of the water.

"The braided and highly variable Wairau has a mean flow of 70 cumecs, so it is perhaps fairer to say that, in leaving 10 cumecs for seven months of the year, Trustpower intends to leave about 15 per cent of the Wairau's mean flow, rather than take 85 per cent.

"But the main point behind the numbers is that, like Aqua, this scheme will be leaving too little water in the river.

"Trustpower have said they 'resent' comparisons to Project Aqua because the Wairau proposal is aimed at making its region less dependent on 'imported' power, rather than being a main plank of the national power supply. The Greens generally support distributed power generation, which is one of the reasons we applaud Trustpower's wind power initiatives, so we have some sympathy with their underlying agenda.

"But from an ecological point of view the comparison to Aqua stands because both would leave insufficient water for the survival of the habitat or for recreational users to enjoy the full amenity value of the river. Trustpower should stick to their good work on wind.

Ms Fitzsimons will be visiting the sites of both of Trustpower's South Island hydro proposals, the Wairau and the Dobson, later this month to gather information and meet local activists.


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