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Regional Council Water Security Programme Engagement To Begin This Year

Hawke’s Bay Regional councillors today received an update on progress with the region’s water security programme.

The Regional Council has received funding from the Provincial Growth Fund to investigate three water security initiatives: development of a comprehensive regional water assessment, investigation of potential small to medium-scale water storage initiatives in the Heretaunga region, and a Managed Aquifer Recharge Pilot in Central Hawke’s Bay.

Regional Council Environment and Integrated Catchments Committee chair Hinewai Ormsby says a number of complex pieces of work will come together this year, presenting the Regional Council with important decisions on future water security.

“With concern rising again as summer river flows drop and our soils dry, it is timely for the community to be reminded about this water security work. As the concern around water security and the challenges of a changing climate mount, the Regional Council is squarely focused on accelerating these initiatives as part of its broader programme of freshwater reform.”

Cr Ormsby says Hawke’s Bay would be hearing much more about these projects in 2021.

“With the publication of the Regional Water Assessment (RWA) later this year, we will all be very clear around how much water we have, how we use it, and how much our future demand for freshwater is likely to outstrip nature’s ability to provide it.

“The RWA will come with recommendations on actions that the Regional Council can take to secure our freshwater resources and we will be actively discussing this report with the community in the second half of this year.”

Cr Ormsby says the RWA was expected to make broad recommendations around water efficiency, land use, water conservation, water storage and how to ensure the life-giving properties of water were equitably shared.

“Additionally, we are also in the early stages of identifying potential small to medium-scale water storage initiatives to supplement lowland streams in Heretaunga that currently run dry in summer. This is primarily an environmental initiative that may also provide more secure water supplies to people and our economy.”

The Regional Council will also look to pilot the Managed Aquifer Recharge Pilot in Central Hawke’s Bay to use peak winter stream and river flows to supplement the region’s aquifer through natural filtration processes and plans to have this operational in the second half of the year.

“At a time when our freshwater supplies have never been more valuable, they have also never been more uncertain. We are working at pace to develop a range of initiatives that protect our environment, enhance the wellbeing of all people and support our economy.”

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