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Waimea Community Dam Proposals Open for Consultation

Waimea Community Dam Proposals Open for Consultation

The annual cost of the Waimea Community Dam would peak at $29 for just over half (51%) of Tasman District’s 24,000 ratepayers, under a proposal out for consultation from Saturday.

The effect on rates and water bills for the remaining 49% of Tasman District’s ratepayers would depend on where they live, and whether they are connected to a Council water supply - but would typically be less than $160 a year.

Proposals for the ownership and governance of the dam, and for funding the Tasman District Council’s share of the dam costs ($26.8 million in capital and an estimated $715,000 a year operating expenses) are open for public consultation from 21 October to 26 November 2017.

Tasman Mayor Richard Kempthorne urged Tasman residents to take the opportunity to learn more about the options and make a submission.

Mayor Kempthorne said the proposals aimed to take into account both direct benefits from the dam (the ability to draw water without the need for water restrictions except in one-in-60-year drought conditions) and indirect environmental and community benefits (such as higher Waimea River flows for improved ecosystem health, and more jobs, wealth and opportunity for the region).

“Everyone in the region will benefit to some degree, while those living in the areas served directly by the dam and closest to greater recreational and employment opportunities will gain the most. The proposals recognise that through targeted rates.”

Mayor Kempthorne said the dam was the preferred option for providing a secure water supply for urban needs, environmental enhancement and irrigation use. It was the lowest-cost option for ratepayers, and the most practical option for providing enough water in summer for both urban and rural homes and businesses.
“It’s also the only option that boosts flows in the Waimea River, which we must do to improve the river’s health and achieve national freshwater standards.”

If the project proceeds, the $75.9m capital cost would be shared by the Council, Waimea Irrigators Limited (WIL), Crown Irrigation Investments Ltd (via loan funding), a Freshwater Improvement Fund grant, and Nelson City Council (subject to a separate consultation with Nelson residents).

Rates and charges
The proposals would see the Council’s costs funded through a combination of surpluses and commercial revenue, urban water rates and charges, and targeted rates.
The funding proposals are:
• A 10% increase in urban water charges (paid by those in the Urban Water Club and rural extensions connected to an urban scheme – this refers to all urban schemes in the District except Motueka). This is made up of a $31 increase in the fixed annual charge (from $320 - $351) and a 20 cent increase in the volumetric charge (from $2.08 per cubic metre to $2.28 m/3) - about $76 a year for households using the expected average 225 cubic metres annually.
• A District-wide fixed charge of about $29 a year (paid by all property owners in Tasman District) – 51% of ratepayers will only pay this charge.
• A Zone of Benefit targeted rate for those living in the area gaining the greatest benefit from the dam, based on property capital value. Properties in the Zone of Benefit with capital values between $250,000 and $1 million could expect to pay between $43 to $85 a year in rates, including the District-wide fixed rate. These figures excludes the water charge increase.
The costs would be stepped in over time, with a likely peak in 2021 – 2022. For example, the $29 District-wide rate might be $15 in year one, $20 in year two, up to $29 when the dam construction is complete. All the example rates include GST.

A Council Controlled Organisation would own and operate the dam, and would be owned by the Tasman District Council (with a minimum 51% stake at all times) and WIL. Ongoing operating costs would be shared by the Council, paying 51% and WIL, 49%.
Credit Support
The Council also proposes to underwrite up to $29m for Crown Irrigation Investment Ltd’s loan of up to $25m to the dam company for WIL. The credit support is more than the loan because of capitalised interest, legal and recovery costs, and a $1.5m buffer required by CIIL.

Find out more
More information about the proposals, including an online calculator for people to work out the likely effect on their rates, will be available at www.tasman.govt.nz/feedback from 21 October.

© Scoop Media

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