Masterton councillor takes up water storage fight

6:02 pm on 6 September 2021

A Masterton councillor has taken up the fight to get a water storage facility built in Wairarapa.

Masterton councillor Tina Nixon is interviewed by TVNZ reporter Whena Owen.

Masterton councillor Tina Nixon is interviewed by a TVNZ reporter (file photo.) Photo: LDR / Wairarapa Times-Age / Karen Coltman

Wairarapa Water Ltd [WWL] announced last week that the development of the Wakamoekau Community Water Storage Scheme [WCWSS] had ceased, citing resource consent troubles.

The scheme was designed to harvest high winter flows of the Waingawa River into a 20 million cubic metre dam for use in summer.

However in recent years environmental planning has changed rapidly, making the scheme challenging to consent through GWRC.

Masterton councillor Tina Nixon, who was on the board of WWL three years ago, said if there was ever a time for Wairarapa to unite, "it is now".

She said the consenting path, "while somewhat cumbersome, was obviously doable".

"It is one of the reasons it was funded by the government under the PGF and at the time by Greater Wellington Regional Council [GWRC].

"For the first time since arriving in Wairarapa, I fear for our long term future.

"All the evidence and analysis and the weight of community support says the dam is the right thing to do and now is the time to do it.

"It will simply never be cheaper to build."

The scheme was granted $7 million from the Provincial Growth Fund [PGF] to develop its water storage pre-construction phase in early 2020.

About $5m has already been spent, WWL said.

Nixon said the scheme offered Wairarapa districts the chance to future-proof drinking water.

It would also benefit commercial users, farmer, and investors, she said.

"It's fair to say the case was so compelling as it was seen as critical for the continued resilience of the region.

"What is now obvious is that Greater Wellington does not see water resilience for Wairarapa as a priority.

"Transport and climate change are.

"Billions have gone into to some pretty crap efforts to sort these out while the investment in Wairarapa water storage has been minimal in comparison."

Nixon said if the region wasn't in lockdown, "I suspect we would have a public meeting and make it clear to the government and GWRC that it's not acceptable and they need to find away to make this happen to ensure this regions viability".

"However, first up we need all our leaders, and everyone who has raised a glass of local water to their lips, to form a community chorus to tell GWRC and the government that this project is a priority and demand they find a way to make it happen."

Nixon invited people who wanted to "join the campaign to fight for this vital project" to [ email her] or call her on 0272232789.

The scheme has had its share of support and opposition.

In December last year, a 40-strong crowd of protesters marched against the project.

They targeted a lack of public scrutiny, as well as energy and environmental concerns.

GWRC was approached for comment.

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