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Nelson MP Nick Smith says he is disappointed but not surprised by the Green Party’s opposition to the Waimea Community Dam.

“The Waimea Community Dam is the only practical prospect of improving minimum flows and water quality in the river without a devastating cut in the horticultural industry on which Nelson depends. The Greens criticism is ill-informed, shows they haven’t done any homework on the specifics of the proposal and have just reverted to their anti-agriculture, anti-infrastructure rhetoric.”

“The claim by Mr Lawry that the dam will increase nitrates in the catchment is just plain wrong. He seems ignorant of the fact that irrigated apples produce fewer nitrates than the existing dryland farming.  He also overlooks that the dam will enable substantial increases in minimum flows and the potential for fresh flows in summer to eliminate the algae that currently causes problems.  “I am also dumbfounded by Ms Fulton’s claim that she opposes the dam because it will enable increased residential development. New homes need water whether they are apartments or greenfield 800 square metre sections. We must ensure more houses are built if we are to avoid unaffordable house prices and rents.”

“The alternative suggestions of household grey water storage tanks show how disconnected the Greens are from the practical costs. Grey water storage tanks cost $250 per cubic metre as compared to the cost of the Waimea Community Dam of $5 per cubic metre. These numbers just confirm that water storage is much better achieved collectively.”

“Claims the Waimea Community Dam involves costly subsidies from ratepayers and taxpayers for orchardists and farmers are incorrect. The ratepayer and taxpayer contribution is for the public good benefits of increasing flows in the Waimea River and for the water to improve the security of town supplies. The $25m share being contributed by Crown Irrigation Investments is capital charged with interest on similar terms that the government has provided for the roll out of ultra-fast broadband. It is to support future growth in irrigation that orchardists and farmers will need to purchase.

“The Green Party’s opposition to the Waimea Community Dam is a huge risk for Nelson’s horticultural interests like apples, hops, kiwifruit, berry fruit and wine. It will not just hit orchards, but negatively impact on the whole regional economy with independent estimates of a loss of over $1b. Voters now face a very distinct choice between a Government that supports infrastructure, growth and improved water quality or a Labour Green government that just opposes for the sake of opposition.”

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