The decision to go ahead with the Waimea Dam is the right thing for the future of the region says Nelson MP Nick Smith.
“The Tasman District Council vote yesterday of 9-5 for the dam to proceed in light of a new funding model was a sensible and long-term decision based on new information. I appreciate this has been a challenging time for Councillors and respect their commitment to getting this right. It would have been a tragedy for the Nelson region if the Waimea Community Dam project had fallen over after 18 years and $8m worth of investigation and design.
“The big gains from this project are environmental and economic. It will enable the minimum flows in summer in the Waimea River to be lifted five-fold and fully meet the national standards for water quality. It will also enable another 1200 ha of horticulture creating more wealth and jobs. It will help support the growth of housing on the Waimea Plains where the population has doubled from 10,000 to 20,000 in my time as MP. It will also make our region more resilient to climate change. The dam will increase summer flows and improve river health. We all want cleaner rivers and we all need to help fund this.
“This issue is also about equity between generations. We are indebted to previous generations of Nelsonians who as ratepayers and citizens made huge sacrifices for the roads, pipes, dams, bridges, drains and ports that we enjoy today. The Waimea Dam is about securing a stronger future for Nelson and Tasman.
“The final hurdle we now need to get over is access to the DOC and LINZ land needed for the dam and reservoir in the Mt Richmond Forest Park. I deferred consideration of my local bill after the Council negative 8-6 vote last week, but now with support, can proceed. The Bill will now have its first reading on 19 September to then be referred to Select Committee for public submissions. I am confident of its passage having confirmed support from National, Labour, NZ First and Act.”