Irrigation New Zealand

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6th July 2017

Andrew Curtis, CEO of Irrigation New Zealand, said it was a very sad day for Hawke’s Bay and New Zealand following the decision by the Supreme Court on the proposed Ruataniwha land swap.

“The Ruataniwha dam depended on that land swap. If the dam does not go ahead it will have a significant impact – particularly on Central Hawke’s Bay farmers and the rural businesses that support them, and on the Tukituki River.”

“The new rules in the Council’s Tukituki plan are reliant on the dam being built because the plan provided for much higher minimum flows in the river. Without the dam there are severe water restrictions ahead for existing irrigators. The horticultural irrigators in particular will run into big problems without the dam, as they need a reliable supply of water to grow their fruit and vegetables. We need to remember Hawke’s Bay is a key horticultural region for New Zealand.”

“Farm storage is an option but it is considerably more expensive. This means production costs will go up – which will threaten the resilience of Hawke’s Bays thriving horticultural sector. Farm storage is also only a feasible option for those situated next to the river itself.”

Mr Curtis said the health of the Tukituki River would also be affected. Climate change predicts lower rainfall for the Hawke’s Bay ranges and this will result in longer periods of lower river flow.

“Rainfall in the ranges dictates how much water flows down the river – without storage to augment the flow the community will see their favourite swimming holes dry more often and there will be less fish to catch.”

The dam would have operated much like the Opuha Dam does now, underpinning river flows and supporting native fish and other aquatic species.

“We don’t envy the Councillors as they’ve now some tough decisions to make. Do they enable the dam through the public works pathway? If not, there needs to be an urgent plan change to address the minimum flow predicament.”

For more information or further interview contact Andrew Curtis, CEO Irrigation New Zealand, on 027 496 6314
Or Liz Crawshaw, Silvereye Communications, 022 176 6953

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