In recent days, the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council announced a new chunk of money to finally determine the feasibility of expanding an existing private lake to provide greater water security for depleted streams in the Bridge Pa area, ultimately feeding into the Karamu Stream.
The first beneficiary of such a scheme would be the environment — at the moment, as in other very dry periods, these streams run dry.
I’m thrilled that HBRC has secured another $5m to explore this option (the project was actually a key driver of a previous PGF award of some $14m from the first Ardern Government to explore precisely such options on the Heretaunga Plains), but I’m frustrated as hell that the project hasn’t already been completed.
The concept was initially developed at his own expense by owner of the lake, Mike Glazebrook, and was first mooted during the TANK process. At the time, all the relevant parties in the TANK process — environmentalists, Māori, water users, council planners — visited the site, heard the case, kicked the tyres and, it appeared, were positively inclined toward it.
This water harvesting scheme was seen as a complement to the proposed TANK plan, which — if it ever comes to pass — would prohibit dams on the Ngaruroro and Tutaekuri Rivers and four of their key tributaries, as well as codify the current voluntary ban on any new water extraction from the Heretaunga aquifer. Sound in substance and sound politically.
Then the TANK process stalled out, with prospects for actually doing something to improve the environment in a timely way blocked in HBRC’s Regional Planning Committee. Who have been the victims … the streams and the local tangata whenua.
Here’s a short video I participated in back in September 2019 illustrating the project.
I think it’s a damn shame that we’re still going to need to spend another $1.3m to determine the ‘feasibility’ of this win/win project. It was a great idea in 2019; in 2021 it will re-emerge as an even better idea, but shamefully overdue.
Would love to hear what you think.