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Government funding boost for dam feasibility study

25 January 2012

Government funding boost for dam feasibility study

The feasibility study into the Ruataniwha water storage dam in Central Hawke’s Bay has been given a major funding boost as the first project in the country to receive funding from the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry’s Irrigation Acceleration Fund.

MAF has announced it will inject $1.67 million dollars into the dam’s feasibility study currently underway. The project has previously received $350,000 of MAF support. The $4.8 million feasibility study is looking at all aspects of the dam proposal from land intensification through increased irrigation capacity to the financial viability and environmental effects.

The proposed dam would see irrigation takes moved to stored water in turn having a positive downstream effect for the Tukituki River, by taking the pressure off the river and enabling it to return to naturalised flows during summer months.

HBRC Chief Executive Andrew Newman says the aim is to improve the water quantity and quality of the Tukituki River, which would be great news for the environment, recreational users and the wider local community.

The proposed dam would be capable of storing 90 million cubic metres of water for irrigating between 17 and 22 thousand hectares, subject to land use, effectively doubling the irrigated land in Hawke’s Bay. It also has hydro-potential of 6.5 megawatts.

Late last year the project took an important step forward following the completion of geotechnical work showing the proposed site on the Makaroro River is ‘technically feasible’.

Ruataniwha Water Storage Project Leadership Team Chairman Sam Robinson, who’s a Central Hawke’s Bay Hill Country farmer, says he’s pleased MAF is co-investing in the project.

“This project has the potential to have significant environmental, economic and employment benefits for the Hawke’s Bay region,” says Mr Robinson.

“I imagine this will be the first of many schemes nationally and we are keen to create a successful blueprint for others.”

Hawke’s Bay Regional Council started with 20 potential dam sites which, through a range of investigations, have been narrowed down to one. The dam would be around 77 metres high, 510 metres wide and create a lake two times the size of Lake Tutira.

Andrew Newman says Hawke’s Bay currently has water sustainability and allocation issues, and the goal of the dam is to provide long term certainty and security to existing and new irrigators.

“We have significant areas of non-irrigated land which a secure irrigation source would unloc k for a range of land uses, including dairying, cropping and mixed arable farming,” says Mr Newman.

“We are also looking at the range of other potential benefits for the region including increased crop processing and port exports. We believe the flow-on effects for the regional and national economy are significant.”

A final decision on whether the project is viable, feasible and affordable is expected by June 2012. Subject to Council approval the next phase will be to obtain consents and undertake final design.

Link to Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries Media Release
Link to Primary Industries Minister’s Media Release


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