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Report shows major potential for Waimea dam

Hon Nathan Guy
Minister for Primary Industries

8 October 2015

Report shows major potential for Waimea dam

A new report released today shows the proposed Waimea Community Dam near Nelson would deliver major economic and environmental benefits, says Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy.

The report by the Ministry for Primary Industries finds the dam would enable unirrigated pasture to be converted to higher value crops like apples and improve water quality at the same time.

“The report shows that building the dam would more than double the average annual catchment profit from $14.5 million to $29.5 million. This value includes an average annual benefit of $2.9 million, and up to $9.5 million in an individual year for existing irrigators from the reliable water supply the dam would provide.

“At the same time, converting from pasture to apples means that nitrogen leaching would be 10 percent lower. That’s a clear ‘win-win’ for both the environment and the economy.

“A dam would also safeguard minimum flows in the Waimea River and recharge aquifers, helping improve water quality and recreational use.”

The Waimea Plains in the Tasman region is one of New Zealand’s major horticulture areas. It relies on irrigation from an interconnected system of rivers and aquifers.

“This area is currently over-allocated by about 64 percent and water supply is unreliable, especially during summer months when farmers and growers need it most.”

The report assesses what economic gains can be made from water permit transfers and the proposed dam, compared to cost and fairness issues involved in clawing back existing water use consents if the dam doesn’t go ahead.

The dam would provide a secure and reliable water supply for existing and future users, including about 1,200 hectares in new irrigated areas, according to the report.

The Government has provided around one million dollars for the pre-construction phase of the dam. If it goes ahead construction is likely to cost around $70 million, shared between Tasman District Council ($25 million) and irrigators ($45 million).

The report is one of several catchment case studies on options for maximising the value of available fresh water. These are being developed in discussion with the Iwi Leaders Group and the Land and Water Forum, and will be included in a discussion document on freshwater reform, due out for consultation in 2016.

The full report is available on the Ministry for Primary Industries website


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