What does “feasibility” mean?
After two+ years and $8 million of studying the Tukituki catchment and preparing justification for its proposed Central Hawke’s Bay dam, the Regional Council has still failed to establish that:
- Water quality will actually improve against relevant standards.
- River flows will be sufficient to protect the river’s ecology.
- Sufficient water will be available to fill the dam on a reliable basis.
- Extreme rainfall events will not overwhelm the dam.
- Farmer productivity will increase to the optimal levels required to ensure financial viability.
- Nutrient run-off from intensified farming has been accurately predicted.
- Sufficient mitigation measures will be required by regulation to address this run-off.
- Current farmers in Central Hawke’s Bay actually want to buy into the irrigation scheme.
- A single dam is a better option than on-farm storage that grows with demand.
- Any jobs created will amount to more than ‘pick and prune’.
- The water storage scheme will not be owned by overseas investors (to say nothing of the farmland itself).
- More than a tiny proportion of any profit (let alone the bank interest) will remain in Hawke’s Bay.
So by what definition then can the Regional Council scheme possibly be “feasible”?!
Some very well-informed submissions have been filed with the Regional Council that delve into the matters listed above. Will Counsellors pay any attention to those and exercise any independent judgment? Or will they continue to be happily spoon-fed by staff dedicated to building the dam?
Running full tilt away from accountability, it appears that most Councillors will minimise their ‘feasibility’ decision on October 31st, claiming that others (others apparently more intelligent, more objective, or better informed) will discover any fatal flaws as the process unfolds. In other words, pass the buck.
As far as the Regional Council is concerned, the group mantra is ‘hear no evil’.