The Regional Council’s tentative plan for water harvesting in Central Hawke’s Bay has encountered a surprising setback of sorts as the full-scale feasibility study on the project gets underway.

After more rigorous on-site geophysical examination of the six sites initially targeted for dams in the scheme, five have been found unsuitable. This turn of events was reported to the Water Storage Stakeholder Group at its meeting last Tuesday. Four are unsuitable because of fault lines or other land instability. Another dam site would need to be shifted for the same reasons, altering the area to be flooded, the impact of which requires further investigation.

The project team has identified other potential sites from the possible fourteen sites that are candidates for the scheme. One might logically think that the optimal sites were the first six selected; however HBRC’s project leader Bruce Corbett said that the substitute sites simply had different pluses and minuses that would now need more careful on-the-ground evaluation.

Meantime, extensive research work proceeds in parallel on water quantity and quality impacts of the scheme, minimum flows, existing land use and potential effects of intensification, cultural impacts and other considerations. Similarly, in-depth analysis of the economic case for the scheme is underway.

While it is understandable why the Regional Council would want to advance (i.e., spend money on) the many prongs of the feasibility study simultaneously, it does seem to a mere layperson that reassurance — based upon the best possible on-site engineering assessments — that sufficient dams and consequent storage capacity can indeed be safely built is far and away THE question that supersedes all others!

Has the Regional Council got the cart before the horse?

If the alternative dam sites fail closer scrutiny, other dominoes fall. Every presentation made lately on the Regional Council’s “proposed” holding company shows “WaterCo” (the business vehicle for the water harvesting scheme) as a primary example of why the holding company is needed.

Further, as Venture Hawke’s Bay chair Neil Kirton argues here in BayBuzz, the future strategic focus for VHB’s regional economic development work will be — you guessed it — confirming and reaping the benefits of water harvesting.

For the Regional Council’s sake, the alternative dam sites had better be a damn sight better than the initial discards!

Tom Belford

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  1. Here we go again! I see where HBRC Chairman Dick is all in favour of placing the Port Of Napier Company Ltd into a holding company. No different to when he squandered millions of Napier City Council ratepayers dollars forming the NOW DISMANTLED "LATEs! for your mates-" Local Authority Trading Enterprises". When he was mayor of NCC.

    I BELIEVE CORPORATISATION -HOLDING COMPANY -IS THE FIRST STEP TOWARDS PRIVATISATION. Same as CEO of the Port Napier Chairman did by arranging the selling off of Southland Port before he came to Napier.

    NCC formed three companys. Tourism Sevices Ltd, Tourism Holdings Ltd and Tourism Facilities Ltd. Board members were Hand picked -NOT ELECTED! Of which -surprise-surprise Mr Dick was one of them-the chair was a private developer (Mr E Browne) another a Rental Vehicle Operator, Mr McKelvie who was also the owner of the very building, they just so happened, to hold their "public excluded meetings" in. For which, as well as receiving handsome meeting payments, he was also paid rent! Another was, a Mr Rowe-who claimed to be some sort of business mentor?

    All sorts of sweetheart deals were known to have taken place -more in particular in regards to NCC's Kennedy Park restaurant. Board members were very handsomely paid -as in most cases ALL THREE MEETINGS one for each company ALL got held in the same day!! Which meant they got paid THREE MEETING PAYMENTS!! Mr Dick was reported as saying he was donating his LATE'S meeting payments into some sort of travel fund? Handsome Gratuity payments on retirement of board members was also written in the company rules.

    Through a bombardment of "concerned" citizens letters to the newspaper Letters to the Editors column. The Napier Development Assn Inc, of which I was secretary. Made several written and up-front oral submissions to NCC requesting that the "secretive" LATES be dismanatled.

    I belive we ratepayers suffered the the secretive LATES for about 3 years. The story about NCC LATES is archived in the National Library of NZ. Without doubt, the citizens of Napier owe their deep gratitude to locals Mr Byron Buchanan & Mr Bill H Pettersen for all their dedication in being instrumental in bringing about the disastablishment of NCC LATEs.

    In the election of 2001. Getting rid of the LATES (as well as Mr Dick No WATER METERS was some of my main election plank, that saw me (before Mr Dick ) get myself elected as a Napier City Councillor. Mr Dick however, had two strings to his bow and managed to get himself a seat on HBRC.

    With Mr Dick gone and with the drive of Cr JJ Harrison, and myself and other NON compliant councillors saw the WINDING UP OF ALL THE NCC "SECRETIVE NCC LATE's"




  2. Tom,

    I hear you are standing for Council (somewhere) – Please dont… we need your independant voice!! You are doing such a great job, don't give it away to local politics!!!!!

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