For the current BayBuzz Digest, I prepared Shades of Green, which discusses a list of environmental issues that local candidates should be asked to address in this election period.

The list includes …

  • Protecting and restoring soils
  • Coasts
  • Healthy air
  • Urban landscapes
  • Biodiversity
  • Wastewater and stormwater
  • Climate change
  • Environmental health

Here’s the full article.

The climate change discussion notes: “The Regional Council reports that rainfall has been ‘significantly below average’ in the region over four of the last five September to April periods. Central and southern Hawke’s Bay have experienced three droughts, and northern HB two in the same period.”

One response to water shortage is dams and water harvesting, which the Regional Council is currently exploring for the Tukituki and Ngaruroro Rivers.

Here’s another potential response. Today, the NYTimes reports on plans in California to convert farmland to energy production via large scale solar power production. There, water is already so scarce (and, as in NZ, with global warming, it will get even scarcer) that land must be taken out of production. And farmers are eyeballing schemes that would place giant solar arrays on their land to generate power for commercial sale.

An option for parts of NZ (even HB) some day?

Rounding out our discussion of environmental questions for the election is Morry Black’s BayBuzz Digest article on water issues in Hawke’s Bay. Here’s the full article, titled On the Waterfront. And here are the questions we suggest you ask local candidates:

  1. Why have rivers like the Tukituki and Ngaruroro been over-allocated for water abstraction?
  2. Should a monetary value be placed on the water itself?
  3. What water conservation measures should be in place for homes, businesses and farmers?
  4. Should resource consents limit the use of fertilizers to protect water quality?
  5. Will constrained water supply limit growth in HB in the future?
  6. If we proceed with dams and water harvesting schemes, who should pay for them?

Tom Belford

Join the Conversation

5 Comments

  1. Hi Tom, like Maxine I'd be very interested in what your answers are.

    It is very easy to criticise those charged with the governance of such issues (I often do it myself), however it is quite another thing to be able to translate that criticism into workable real world solutions.

    I have seen this with many people who have pursued a post as an elected member. Once that get a full and frank understanding of the constraints they need to work within, their criticisms tend to subside somewhat.

    I am not necessarily suggesting that this is the case with you, however what I want from my elected members are workable solutions. Hence I am keen to hear how you would address these issues.

  2. Response from HBRC Councillor Ewan McGregor:

    *Protecting and restoring soils – Public promoted soil conservation had its origins with the formation of the Catchment Board in 1944. Early in the life of the R C it inaugurated the Regional Landcare Scheme which was a more comprehensive approach to the problem. Since the 1940s millions of trees have been planted to reduce soil erosion. Nevertheless, the problem remains. We must try harder. One initiative, I believe unique in N Z, is the acquisition of a seriously eroding property at Tutira by the R C to cloth it in multi-species high value forestry to, among other things, act as a demonstration of alternative land use to pasture (and pines) on such land.

    *Coasts – refer to the R C Coastal Environmental Plan

    *Healthy air. Refer to the recently developed air plan, which means that from 2012 domestic heating by open fires will be banned, for the first time in our entire history for the great majority of the H B people. This will come as an expense to many people and mean that the fireplace, the primary internal architectural feature of many homes will be superfluous.

    *Urban landscapes – And rural landscapes. Not enough being promoted (apart from downtown architecture, a triumph in H B), but a cause dear to me – I’m an active member of Hastings Landmarks). We must work harder to encourage landowners to appreciate our magnificent landscape and work to its enhancement.

    *Biodiversity – First R C to support the QEII National Trust, Pekapeka, Karamu, massive possum knockdown, and more, but we must do much more.

    *Wastewater and storm water. Major improvements recently made, or being made. The facilitation by the R C of the programme to remove CHB wastewater from the Tukituki to land-based is unique to N Z, the MfE tell me.

    *Climate change – Need more trees in H B, choice of species and sited with care, and arboricultural management needing much more attention. And how about increasing the tax on petrol/diesel (with a quid pro quo reduction in income tax)? Sorry, not a political runner – we’re too addicted to our cars.

    *Environmental health. See all above.

    1. Why have rivers like the Tukituki and Ngaruroro been over-allocated for water abstraction? – Because we have taken our wonderful water endowment for granted – that’s history, so let’s learn from the past and move on. Note that allocation and usage can be very different things. Now sleeping rights are being replaced with a 2-year use it or loose it policy. Water consents will be harder to get (and more costly) in the future.

    2. Should a monetary value be placed on the water itself? – Many water users, especially viticulture and horticulture, are struggling and some failing. How can driving more to the wall benefit H B? Can’t see it in the foreseeable future, which is not to say that the status quo remains for ever.

    3. What water conservation measures should be in place for homes, businesses and farmers? – Mainly education and motivation. Not sure what is meant by ‘farmers’ but assume it to exclude irrigators, covered in No 2. Farmers largely rely on entrapped water, in made-made dams, thanks to that great invention, the bulldozer. (And they should be encouraged to fence stock out and ecologically enhance them, thus creating a new wetland resource for H B.)

    4. Should resource consents limit the use of fertilizers to protect water quality? No. How many consents to farmers need? Rely on the good sense and management of farmers. Remember that we do not have the lakes with farmed catchments like En Waikato and BoP.

    5. Will constrained water supply limit growth in HB in the future? – Yes.

    6. If we proceed with dams and water harvesting schemes, who should pay for them? – The primary beneficiaries.

    Ewan McGregor

    P O Box 1252 Hastings

    ph 06 873 4288; cell 027 2237063

    Website http://www.overthefence.org. nz

  3. Regarding my positions on/approaches to various issues.

    First, with 900+ posts on BayBuzz, many quite extensive (as well as every BayBuzz Digest online in PDF form), there cannot be much mystery about where I stand on the issues. It's all searchable by key word and category.

    Second, since I don't wish to promote my Regional Council candidacy on BayBuzz (other than through paid adverts like any other candidates), I'm not going to present my "candidate" positions on BayBuzz. I am in the process of building http://www.tombelford.co.nz as my campaign site. Watch that space.

  4. Tom you say – "and, as in NZ, with global warming, it will get even scarcer)"

    Where did u find that linkage? and what change in water supply is linked with the recent generally accepted temp rise of less than 1 degree.

    Bet you $$$ to doughnuts that scarcity of water is linked to draw off for commercial production and consequent profit focus. Certainly the lack of water in Australia's Murray River and our own Canterbury's rivers is about draw off and not the good ole emotive call to arms "Global Warming"

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *