Finding ways to improve quality and availability of domestic water supply in the area.

Waimea Dam Public Consultation 16 Nov

Many thanks again to all who attended our public consultation meeting yesterday. The meeting was well attended and ran for two and a half hours. The Council presentation was followed by lively discussion.

Questions fielded by the meeting and answered by Council representatives King, McKenzie, and Drummond included issues such as:

  • financing details
  • the ongoing consultation process
  • earthquake risks
  • revenue to be gained from the dam
  • dam refill rates
  • perceived 'fairness' of benefits of the dam
  • the intended design life of the dam
  • hydro-electric power generation

...and many more.

TDC: The Way Forward for the Waimea Community Dam

From the TDC news feed:

The Tasman District Council has released the letter that provides the agreed way forward for the current community consultation on the Waimea Community Dam. Waimea Irrigators Ltd (WIL)and Crown Irrigation Investments Ltd (CIIL) as the co-signatories have agreed to the release.

The "Process Letter" sets out the undertakings that the three parties have made to each other.  While the letter does not commit the parties to achieve the milestones or to undertake the project, it does enable the partners, the Council and WIL to move forward with the project with the support of CIIL.

Council’s CEO Lindsay McKenzie said he was pleased that the letter had been released because it sets the scene for council’s current round of community consultation.

Read the full TDC article here.

To have your say, attend your local community consultation meeting on Thursday 16 November, 7 pm at the Moutere Hills Community Centre.

Public Meeting - TDC Consultation on Waimea Dam

Tasman District Council representatives will come to visit the Moutere for consultation on the proposed Waimea Community Dam.

The consultation will be focused on the benefits and costs of the project on ratepayers and water users throughout the District, and how the dam will be managed.

Join us at the Public Meeting on Thursday 16 November, 7 pm at the Moutere Hills Community Centre.

Have your say on the dam proposal - it is a huge project which will affect everybody in the district.

Thoughts on the Moutere Water Catchment

TDC Hydrologist Joseph Thomas recently made a presentation on water issues in the 200 km² Moutere Catchment at a recent meeting of the Mapua and District Community Association. Here is a summary of the scientific and technical aspects touched upon:

The Moutere is typically a dry catchment with 3 zones: Eastern, Western and Southern, which is
where Mapua sits. The entire catchment is full of Moutere Gravels of varying depths down to the granite base at about 200 m.

There are up to three levels of water which is very old and is recharged very slowly from the hills to the South. Council has tight rules for drilling bores but these were created originally for irrigation purposes (in dry seasons). The yield from these bores is low, typically around 5 cubic meters/hour.

Use has changed since to include household use with 365 day draw-down. Private bores are allowed without permit, are typically around 80 m deep and allow 5000 l/day. Council is worried that year-round draw-down could deplete the aquifer and allow salt water intrusion.

Read more...

TDC: Changes to Public Water Supply Bylaw 2016

Tasman District Council is proposing some changes to the Public Water Supply Bylaw in this update on the previous bylaw from 2009 which is now expiring.

While no effective change from provisions in the expiring bylaw, two areas where Council intend to apply and enforce bylaw requirements are a "minimum storage for customers connected to a restricted flow supply", and for customers to "comply with any water restrictions imposed because of drought, emergency, or other reason".

This will affect all users on schemes with restrictors such as the Dovedale Water Scheme.

Follow this link to read the full bylaw draft.

Submissions close at 4.00pm Wednesday 10 August 2016.

TDC: Reactions to Dam Consultation

A collection of links to further official TDC responses on the recent Waimea Dam consultation, with key quotes:

Affordability Issues Drive Council Rejection of Funding Models
"The issue of affordability is central to the Council’s decision to reject the funding models put forward in the recent consultation. [...] The proposal in the form consulted on is clearly not affordable nor supported if funded by ratepayers alone, as it proved earlier to be even less affordable if funded by water users alone."  [Full Item]

Equity and Fairness a Key Element in Council Response
"Council has taken heed of the very clear message delivered by submitters and will work to deliver new sources of funding in the future."  [Full Item]

Environmental Flow Costs to be Reassessed in Dam Funding
"Council has been asked reduce the ratepayer contribution in future budgets and modelling. [...] The contributor/exacerbator argument that many submitters raised has been accepted in principle." [Full Item]

Timing of Dam Consultation Process Questioned
"The recent consultation process [...] has been criticised for being rushed and premature and for a lack of information. Despite that, the number of submissions and the quality of many of them was outstanding." [Full Item]

TDC: Council Staff Advises on Dam Funding Models

From the TDC website:

Tasman District Council is being advised by staff at Thursday’s (11/12) meeting that neither of the funding options for the proposed Waimea Community Dam should be adopted.  The analysis of submissions shows that the proposal to fund the project entirely from rates is not affordable for the community nor for the Council.

“My advice to the Council is that the project shouldn’t proceed on the funding basis proposed.  I doubt that there is any way of allocating the cost of such a large project on to ratepayers or the direct beneficiaries in a way that is fair and affordable,”  said Council CEO Lindsay McKenzie.

“There is still a strong case for augmenting the supply of water available on and around the Waimea Plains,” says Mr McKenzie.  “For that reason I am also advising the Council to provide for a dam when it consults on the Long Term Plan 2015-25. My report covers the conditions on which a commitment to a dam could be made.”

The report recommends that submitters concerns about the method of funding the environmental flows be heeded, that further investigation into the best size for a dam be undertaken and external funding be actively sought.

See TDC news item.

TDC: Water Restrictions In Force In Parts Of The District

Water restrictions are kicking in for the Waimea Plains and areas such as Richmond, Mapua and Ruby Bay from 1 December.

Council notes the Waimea River has fallen to below the consultation trigger of 2,800 litres/sec and is currently running at 2,700 litres/sec and still dropping steadily. Aquifer levels across the district are much lower than last year and also trending downwards.

“The Waimea Plains have had less than 75 percent of normal rainfall for this time of the year and ground conditions are dry. The situation is better in other parts of the district but the Council will continue its monitoring and urges all rural and urban users to be conservative with their water use.”

Read full TDC news item

See current River Flow Measurements

Further links to Water Shortage Direction and General Water Saving Hints

Waimea Dam: Council Hearings

Along with numerous other submitters MHRA presented their recent submission to the Waimea Dam funding consultation at a council hearing today. We presented the concerns of local residents about rates increases, perceived uneven distribution of benefits, and the overall affordability of the project.

Council took interest in our water supply survey and how we ran it.

Cr Norriss pointed out as a clarification on our wording regarding the Dovedale water scheme that any calculation of affordability of improving the scheme's source ($1.6M cost mentioned) is part of a closed account and thus of course not directly related to funding decisions of other projects such as the Waimea Dam.

Water Supply: First Survey Results

These are the initial results of our survey on the issue of local water supply (after three weeks). For this survey we have been polling 600 households in the Moutere catchment, representing a population of approximately 1,500.

At the time of this evaluation, 12% of households polled have participated in the survey.

The purpose of the survey was to find out whether residents are satisfied with the current supply situation, what areas need to be improved, and whether there is interest in creating a new community-owned supply scheme as alternative to the Dovedale scheme. The survey also contained questions to indicate support or opposition to the Waimea Community Dam as currently proposed by TDC.

Read more...

Comment: "Why should 23,000 ratepayers fund an $80 million dam for the sole benefit of 40 people?"

In his own submission to the current Waimea Dam consultation, local resident John Clifton presents his thoughts on what he thinks unfair and inequitable distribution of cost versus benefit in the current funding models.

His point is that by far the largest share of water is used by a relatively small number of commercial irrigators. As an alternative he suggests the introduction of a volume-related pricing structure for irrigation water which would:

  • Encourage conservation and collection of water.
  • Maintain higher river flow levels throughout the year.
  • Reduce water consumption in the Waimea district.
  • Reduce ground water and aquifer pollution.
  • Rebalance land values on the Waimea plain.
  • Allow a rational debate on whether a dam is really required.

Read John's full submission here.

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