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Aquifer too precious to risk fracking

DIANE JOYCE
Last updated 13:20 14/05/2014

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Any risk to Hawke's Bay's aquifer, however minute, is too big, say those opposed to oil and gas mining in the region.

Without the aquifer "Hawke's Bay will be dead - water is critical", says regional strategist and Green Party candidate for Napier Chris Perley.

He was one of four speakers lined up for a public meeting this month, arranged by members of Don't Frack the Bay and Guardians of the Aquifer.

Joining him on the podium would be Gisborne District councillor Manu Caddie, Tararua farmer Donald James, and Guardians of the Aquifer member Pauline Doyle.

The biggest concern was that mining in general and fracking in particular would lead to contaminants getting into the aquifer.

Fracking (hydraulic fracturing) involved injecting fluid containing sand and chemicals at high pressure into rock to fracture it, allowing the extraction of previously inaccessible oil and gas.

The aquifer supplied all of Hastings and Napier's reticulated drinking water and was imperative for the agricultural and horticultural industries.

Perley said any risk was too much, given the consequences "if it goes wrong".

"It's like saying we'll do something that could remove all the oxygen from the Earth's atmosphere, and going ahead with it because the risk it'll go wrong is tiny - tiny is still too big. We need to stop this before it starts."

Comparing Taranaki's oil and gas industry with the potential in Hawke's Bay was flawed, said Doyle.

Taranaki did not rely on an aquifer for "100 per cent of its water supply as we do", so the risks were "completely different", she said.

Last month Tukituki MP Craig Foss said the aquifer had been protected, because the search area did not include the Heretaunga Plains and was therefore not atop the water source.

Doyle said Foss either did not understand how the aquifer was re-filled, or was "deliberately misleading Hawke's Bay".

The permitted area included the Ngaruroro and Tutaekuri rivers, which were the main contributors to the re-filling of the aquifer, Doyle said.

The public meeting is being held in the Napier City Council chambers at 7pm on May 23.

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- The Napier Mail

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