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Single Dam Site Has Most Potential

22 August 2011

Single Dam Site Has Most Potential

The most recent results from the Ruataniwha water storage project feasibility study have identified that the best route forward is to concentrate on a single dam site.

Expert international advice gained through engineering consultants Tonkin & Taylor led to Hawke’s Bay Regional Council’s decision to rule out the smaller, proposed Makaretu dam site near Waipawa.

The focus of feasibility studies for water storage now shifts entirely to the larger Makaroro River dam site, west of Tikokino. Evidence to date suggests that the Makaroro site, although complex, is technically feasible and further refined geotechnical investigations are under way.

If proved feasible, this option would result in more water in the Tukituki River in the summer and better water security for irrigators.

Geological work at the Makaretu site, completed early in August, uncovered serious geological and geotechnical flaws, including unstable foundation material. This means that any potential dam construction on the Makaretu is deemed too difficult and expensive to progress.

Hawke’s Bay Regional Council is comfortable with the decision to rule out Makaretu, noting the benefits of a single dam focus and the potential to use one site to provide all the water needed for the Ruataniwha Basin.

“Economies of scale are possible with a single storage site,” said Hawke’s Bay Regional Council Chief Executive Andrew Newman.

“A single dam will have less environmental impact and it will be easier to plan for the effects on river systems. Economically, there should be benefits of scale for capital funding and construction if this site gets through the remaining feasibility investigations.”

The Regional Council is working with a strategic leadership group and an informed stakeholders group to ensure wide community involvement in the investigation and options. Landowners and those involved in the groups have been informed of this latest decision.

The focus of the study includes refining geotechnical information, undertaking dam design, assessment and costings, assessing environmental costs and benefits, and looking at financial viability and economic benefits.

Mr Newman said that there is still a lot of work to be done during this phase of the feasibility study and that Council will continue to update the community as the project progresses.


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