Wednesday, 13 July 2016 15:55

Ruataniwha decision a ‘game changer’ for Hawke’s Bay

Written by 
IrrigationNZ chief executive Andrew Curtis. IrrigationNZ chief executive Andrew Curtis.

The decision by Hawke's Bay Regional Council (HBRC) to invest in the Ruataniwha Water Storage Scheme is the best outcome for the Hawke's Bay community, says IrrigationNZ.

HBRC has voted to confirm its $80million investment in the scheme after agreeing that all four of the conditions required for investment had been met.

The decision sets the Hawke's Bay community up for a positive future as access to reliable water will be a game changer for the region, says IrrigationNZ chief executive Andrew Curtis.

"It's well proven when water storage schemes proceed, the whole community benefits hugely. We're not just talking about new jobs and employment, but greater social, recreational and environmental opportunities as well. Look at Ashburton District, built on a strong farming hinterland underpinned by irrigation," he says.

"A new swimming pool and sports stadium, arts gallery, events centre and museum have all been funded by ratepayers in recent years.

"This is amazing when you consider there's only 33,000 people that live in the district. Irrigation supported by water storage, allows growers and farmers to ride out global market conditions and climatic stresses like droughts. The Hawke's Bay can expect to see increasing interest from a wider range of fruit, vegetable and arable producers now reliable water is on its way," says Mr Curtis.

Additionally, the role of water storage in promoting sustainable river flows and boosting groundwater supplies can't be under-estimated.

"Water quality issues can also be addressed through water storage as it provides the ability to maintain regular flows and augment streams that are struggling.

"On top of this, water storage allows groundwater users to move away from deep bores this means less pumping and so less energy use, it will also help improve river and stream flows during the summer.

"We're already seeing this transition occur in Selwyn District prompted by Central Plains Water and this could be a key feature of the new Ruataniwha scheme."

More like this

Lifting irrigation prowess on farm

The ability to manage an irrigation system depends on the percentage of water pumped that becomes available for plants to use, according to Watermetrics.

B+LNZ remains unconvinced by low-slope map

The Government’s new proposed low-slope map for stock exclusion is better than the original, however the map still won’t practically work on the ground, says Beef+Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ).

Restoring our freshwater systems

OPINION: When I started writing this piece, I was sitting in my Kaiapoi office on a sweltering 30-degree summer’s day, and I could hear faint “plops” as youngsters pulled “phat manus” and “bombs” off the bridge into the Kaiapoi River as generations before them have done.

Do they know that the river is deemed “unsuitable” for swimming with E. coli levels of up to 2,420 per 100ml? This information is available on LAWA’s website, Land, Air, Water Aotearoa (LAWA) - Can I swim here? It makes for sobering reading. With levels this high, we should supply these youngsters with full PPE gear to wear over their shorts. The saddest fact is that this story is repeating itself from Cape Reinga to Bluff.

We are witnessing the systemic collapse of New Zealand’s freshwater systems as our environment can no longer handle the extreme pressure we have placed on it through decades of urban and rural intensification. We have taken too much from our environment and we must start giving back.

Change is coming with a renewed focus on healthy waterways through the National Policy for Freshwater Management (NPS-FM), which the Government announced in August 2020, as well as Plan Change 7 to the Canterbury Land & Water Regional Plan (PC7), which progressed through submissions and a hearing in front of independent hearing commissioners last year.

I attended the PC7 hearing in December and it boosted my spirits to observe the passion our community has for improving Waimakariri’s waterways. I hope the changes that come out of PC7 will be bold and far reaching.

The concept of Te Mana o te Wai underpins the NPS-FM and places the highest value on the health of freshwater systems. This philosophy is the new basis for how we, as a society, interact with our environment. The NPS-FM creates a framework for change, but we must also change how we think as council bodies, as communities, as businesses, and as individuals about how our systems/practices must shift from productive growth mode to sustainability mode, and how we can live within an acceptable environmental footprint. On an individual level, we need to realise how, over the long term, that wet paddock or riverbed block would benefit the planet if it were left to revert to a wetland or a more natural state.

This year the Waimakariri Water Zone Committee will focus on priority areas and working with the community to improve our waterways.

We will support change through three newlyformed catchment groups – the Sefton Saltwater Creek Catchment Group, the Landcare Working Group, and the Biodiversity Group.

We are ahead of the curve in Waimakariri in terms of engaging with farmers, waterway conservation groups and the wider community, but we still have a long journey ahead to restore our rivers and streams.

We must work together in a united way to leave our land and water for future generations to inherit in a better state than when we found it.

Whatungarongaro te tangata, toitū te whenua - As man disappears from sight, the land remains.

Michael Blackwellis is chair of Waimakariri Water Zone Committee.

National

Machinery & Products

Making life easier

Many temporary sheep fencing systems can be troublesome, with reels jamming or breaking and the bugbear of silly hooks on…

Valtra's following grows

With the release of its N5 and T5 series of tractors, Valtra continues to expand its presence in the Australia-New…

» The RNG Weather Report

» Latest Print Issues Online

The Hound

No free ride!

OPINION: This old mutt is getting somewhat tired of multi-national, tax-dodging, fund-raising group Greenpeace always given front and centre mainstream…

How come?

OPINION: A mate of yours truly is questioning exactly why the Māori ag sector have been given special budget funding by…

» Connect with Rural News

» eNewsletter

Subscribe to our weekly newsletter