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

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.


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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Waimea Dam: Our Submission To Funding and Governance Consultation

MHRA has issued a submission to the current consultation phase of the proposed Waimea Dam project.

We have focused on our objective to act as channel of communication between the community and TDC and have compiled feedback and concerns about the current proposal which we will present to council. In this submission we have used data from the initial results of our currently running survey on water supply.

"The MHRA submits that there are significant concerns among residents of the Moutere Hills area
about either funding model and the projected rates increase implied thereby, as well as about the
overall affordability of the dam and what is seen as uneven distribution of benefit. [...]

We submit that Council further investigate the level of popular support for the dam project, the
ability of the population to afford rates increases, and review the proposed funding models
accordingly in order to achieve a proposal with no or significantly reduced general rates impact. [...]"

Read the full submission here.

Waimea Dam: Do we really need 30% for Environmental Flow?

More thoughts on the Waimea Dam funding: extracts from a submission to Tasman District Council by Dr. Christopher R. Bennett, who has spent some time delving into the economic reports on the dam funding proposals. Chris says:

From the material I have reviewed it appears that the proposed funding model for the Lee Valley Dam is predicated on a several key decisions which result in a larger, more expensive dam than is required. These decisions have been made on what seem to be sound technical and environmental advice, but have been made in isolation from: (i) the ability and willingness to pay by those expected to fund the dam; and, (ii) the economic and social benefits arising from the decisions.

Chris is suggesting that TDC should:

  • undertake a study for ratepayer support for the project - thus determine affordability - and finally adjust he dam's design accordingly
  • reduce the design flow for 'environmental capacity' which would substantially reduce the cost of the dam
  • improve the management of water rights for future and potentially existing users


Take Our Water Supply Survey!

The Moutere Hills Residents Association is polling its members and the community to produce a submission to the first consultation phase of the proposed Waimea Dam - and to find out which alternatives for improving water supply to the area best match the needs and interests of local residents.

This online survey only takes about two minutes to complete and all residents of the Moutere catchment should have their say. We need your feedback - this is how you can influence the future of the district!

Waimea Dam - Economic Reports From TDC

For those who want more details on the proposed Waimea Dam there are now new reports available through TDC.

The Waimea Dam Economic Assessment report by commissioned by the regional Economic Development Agency is available from the EDA website.

Mayor Kempthorne says: "This report provides the economic rationale and benefits available through its construction."

"The Council acknowledges the report focuses on the economic future of the area and is primarily focused on the horticulture sector as one would expect of a report commissioned by the EDA. However, the link between a sustainable economy and social and community needs is very clear."

"What this report does not cover is the issue of affordability for Tasman ratepayers. Significant external contributions by Central Government and our local government partners are critical to providing an affordable financial model for constructing the dam."

Full news item at TDC website.

Also now available: commissioned from NZIER the report ‘How to pay for a dam’ investigates the public and private benefits derived from the dam and the options the Council has to finance it as a result.

This report is available here.

Just how dry will this next summer be?

An Update on Water Supply in the Moutere Hills Area (and the Waimea Dam)

Since the public meeting organised by the MHRA in April we have spent some time piecing together the factors affecting the provision of a potable water supply for the residents of the Dovedale and Upper Moutere area. This included meeting with a representative of TDC engineering department and with the chair of the present Dovedale Water Committee, and collecting information from the TDC website.

Water supply on the Dovedale Scheme has become somewhat more reliable as faulty sections have been replaced, but the water quality remains below standard and worsens over summer as intake reduces and water is taken from a lower outlet. A permanent "boil water notice" continues to be in place. TDC has not yet produced a required Public Health Risk Management Plan for the scheme and says this "will be reviewed as part of the 2015-2025 Long Term Plan". The volume available from the present source cannot be increased, and the scheme is seen as slowly amassing more debt.

Plans exist at TDC for supplying water to the Dovedale scheme from a new source in the Motueka river gravels near Woodstock to improve both quality and available quantity. However, any such plans have been postponed by TDC with a new "placeholder" date of 2026. There is no certainty of this date being any more reliable than the previously announced 2016 date. TDC claim that the $1.6 million dollars estimated to get a new source and treatment station and fix the supply pipes was seen as too high a price to be carried by the people serviced by the present scheme.

One of the problems preventing us moving forward is that focus has been on the existing Dovedale Scheme rather than on actual number of households (potential users) in the distribution area. Our Water Supply Survey is part of our effort to establish a better view of the demand in the distribution area.