Dam D-Day getting closer

HELEN MURDOCH
Last updated 12:58 17/07/2014

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Four streams of work will decide the look, ownership, funding and future of Tasman District Council's proposed $42 million Waimea Community Dam.

Mayor Richard Kempthorne said the council has a "web of stuff happening" around the proposed dam. "It's an incredibly important process that we are paying a lot of attention to."

The must-do list includes an impending resource consent, a special consultative procedure, next year's Long Term Plan process and advice from the newly-formed Waimea Fresh Water and Land Advisory Group.

The resource consent for the dam's construction will shortly be lodged by Waimea Community Dam Ltd, an offshoot of the Waimea Water Augmentation Committee. The process, which will decide the project's conditions, if granted will be funded by the committee.

Kempthorne said the consent process was needed so the council could tie down the project's likely current cost and so develop a financial model. The proposed dam's current $42 million price tag was estimated in 2009 and likely to have risen. However, tenders could not be sought, and a subsequent model of costs developed, unless the project had a current resource consent, he said.

September will see Tasman launch a special consultative procedure which will see ratepayers have their say on who will own the planned dam, how it will be managed and how it will be funded.

"This is the first time people can have a real say on what the dam means to Tasman ratepayers," Kempthorne said. Feedback will be sought from all ratepayers, but in particular landowners and irrigators on the Waimea Plains, and urban and industrial water users bordered by Mapua, Brightwater, Richmond and southern Stoke - and include input from Nelson City Council.

Ratepayers can again give their views on the dam during consultation around next year's 2015-2025 Long Term Plan.

By then, armed with the price, the process, the project's parameters and public feedback, it will be Tasman councillors role to make the final decision.

Meanwhile the 12-member Fresh Water Land Advisory Group has started discussing how the proposed dam, and its effects, will comply with the Tasman Resource Management Plan and the Government's new freshwater national policy statement.

The group, made up of iwi, recreational environmental and horticultural stakeholders and chaired by Nick Patterson, will report back after the LTP is finalised. Kempthorne said any required changes to the TRMP would be publicly notified through a plan change process..

Meanwhile the current appeal process around the public plan changes to the Waimea Water Management Plan, which dealt with the possible provision of the dam and water allocation for the Waimea Plains if there is no dam, is on hold while a mediation date is set.

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Three parties appealed against the plan's proposals around low flows in the Waimea River and water allocation for rootstock maintenance.

Seven associated parties subsequently piggy-backed on the appeals, which will initially be dealt with through Environment Court mediation, Kempthorne said.

- The Nelson Mail

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