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Council Moves to Research Water Storage Sites

Hawke’s Bay Regional Council Media Release

22 December 2010

Council Moves to Research Water Storage Sites

Hawke’s Bay Regional Council will be looking at two potential dam sites in more detail, in the second stage of the feasibility study of the Ruataniwha water storage project.

The two preferred potential sites are the Makaroro Stream and the Makaretu Stream, and would provide for large dams. Both would provide secure irrigation for 90% of the Ruataniwha Plains needs and there is interest from Centralines in the hydropower potential of the sites.

Landowners in the district, especially those in the affected area, have been contacted by Council staff to advise them of the preferred potential sites and the work that will be done in coming months.

Sixteen potential sites were assessed for geotechnical and cost issues in the first part of the feasibility study during 2010 before the two sites were identified for further investigation. Other work that has been done includes surveying irrigation demand and undertaking a detailed assessment of the water resources of the entire Ruataniwha basin. The Regional Council received a report on the first stage of the study in mid-December.

“This project needs to keep moving as it has the potential to benefit not only Central Hawke’s Bay but the whole region,” said Chairman Fenton Wilson.

As part of developing the project, the Regional Council established two groups – the water storage project Leadership group chaired by Sam Robinson, and a Stakeholder group chaired by Debbie Hewitt. These groups provide the Council with advice and direction and represent landowner and community interests.

“The Leadership group has endeavored to provide wider community support for the proposal. There is no doubt that, if we are to maximize the irrigation potential on the Ruataniwha Plains, some form of storage will be essential,” said Sam Robinson.

“The next phase of study will be much more technical and specific, and will include land intensification impacts study by NIWA, drilling of pilot bores to understand in detail the geology of the potential dam sites during summer months, and a detailed farm scale economic assessment. This should give Council the right information so that, at any stage, the correct decisions can be made going forward,” said Chief Executive Andrew Newman.

Costings for the dams and irrigation networks will be refined, and both an environmental assessment and a historic places assessment of sites highlighted in the first stage will be completed in discussion with local people and Māori.

The Council aims to have the feasibility study completed in 18 months.

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