Dam plans taking shape

20:17, Jul 23 2014
 Lee Valley DAM
DAM SITE: Nelson MP Nick Smith, left, and former Government minister (now Speaker of the House) David Carter discuss the proposed Lee Dam near its proposed location in the Lee Valley in 2011.

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 had a "web of stuff happening" for the proposed dam.

"It's an incredibly important process that we are paying a lot of attention to."

The must-do list includes a 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 has been 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.


Richard Kempthorne said the consent process was needed so the council could tie down the project's likely cost and therefore develop a financial model.

The proposed dam's $42m price tag was estimated in 2009 and was likely to have risen. However, tenders could not be sought, and a subsequent model of costs developed, unless the project had a resource consent, he said.

In September Tasman will launch consultations in which 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," he 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 on next year's 2015-2025 Long Term Plan (LTP).

By then, armed with the price, the process, the project's parameters and public feedback, Tasman councillors can make the final decision.

Meanwhile, the 12-member Fresh Water Land Advisory Group has started regularly discussing how the proposed dam and its downstream effects will comply with the Tasman Resource Management Plan (TRMP) 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 after the LTP is finalised.

Richard said any required changes to the TRMP would be publicly notified.

Meanwhile, appeals on 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, are on hold while a mediation date is set for the council and appellants.

Three parties appealed the plan's proposals for low flows in the Waimea River and water allocation for rootstock maintenance. Seven associated parties piggy-backed on the appeals which would initially be dealt with through Environment Court mediation, Richard said.

Public submissions to the dam's consent application will be open till August 15.

The Nelson Mail