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National MP Nick Smith is encouraging the Nelson and Tasman communities to back the Waimea Community Dam in his annual newsletter, saying it’s environmental, economic and social benefits make it a ‘must do’ for the region.

“Large shared infrastructure projects are hellishly difficult to progress. I have worked hard to help secure more than $40m of funding in grants and discounted loans from the previous Government. It will be a tragedy if the scheme falls over after more than a decade of investigation, consultation and consents.”

Dr Smith’s newsletter includes a standard submission form supporting the dam and is being circulated to all households in Nelson and Tasman this week. Tasman is included as Dr Smith has been assigned the National caretaker role for this area after Maureen Pugh lost her list seat in the General Election after special votes were counted.

“The reason I am such a strong advocate for the Waimea Community Dam is that I see a secure water supply as crucial to the region’s future. We need the water storage to address the long standing summer problem of toxic algae in the Waimea River, to support Nelson’s horticultural export industry and the growth in housing.

“One of the biggest challenges is explaining to Nelson people how the dam benefits them. Too few city people appreciate that Nelson sources part of its water out of the Roding River that is part of the Nelson catchment and it’s only fair it contributes to fixing the summer minimum flow problems. Nor do Nelson people realise that over 1,000 city households and businesses adjacent to Richmond receive their water directly from Tasman and more will do so as this city grows to the south.

“The easy part is for people to say they want clean rivers, better jobs and growing exports. The harder part is taking the actions and backing the projects that will achieve this. The Waimea Community Dam is the best opportunity in a generation to address the region’s biggest water problem. The new Government has said they will honour the $40m commitments from the previous National Government, but no new grants or support will be provided for water schemes.

“This newsletter is part of my ongoing effort to try and ensure out Councils see this important regional project through.”

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