Ruataniwha dam has already cost ratepayers too much

The Ruataniwha dam project should not proceed, as it has already sucked up $12million of Hawke’s Bay ratepayers’ money and $6m from the taxpayer, and questions still remain about the dam’s viability in the wake of yesterday’s Board of Inquiry decision, the Green Party said today.

HBRIC, the investment arm of the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council, has also earmarked another $80m of ratepayers’ money to pay for construction.

As parts of the Tukituki catchment are already very polluted by high levels of nitrogen entering waterways from farms, the Board’s decision to put a limit of 0.8mg nitrogen per litre of water by 2030 raises questions as to how farmers will be able to afford to stay below this.

“There is a contradiction here in that the catchment is already a mess, and setting low limits for the future – while a positive step – isn’t going to solve the problem.

“The dam will see the area more intensively farmed, which will create more pollution.  

“This project is an unworkable white elephant that ratepayers have had to foot the bill for. The only way to meet nitrogen limits set by the Board of Inquiry is to stop polluting now.

“We’ve opposed the Ruataniwha dam not least because of the detrimental effect more intensive farming will have on the catchment and the cost to the local community, but also because it will not solve the problem of uncertainty over water supply.

“We’ve seen from the way Opuha dam in Canterbury dried up this year that drought is something we are going to have to live with and adapt to as the effects of climate change become more prevalent.

“Changing the way we farm is a step in the right direction towards resiliency, not continuing to plunder the environment unsustainably,” said Ms Delahunty.



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