Media Release – Share offer well received; confusion around coming water take changes

Fri, 23 Feb 2018

The effort to inform Waimea Plains landowners about the offer to purchase water shares in Waimea Irrigators Limited (WIL) has started strongly. Ambassadors report positive feedback from potential shareholders and applications for shares have already been received. However, misunderstanding exists for some landowners about the water take changes coming in November 2018.

WIL and Tasman District Council (TDC) are proposing to build the Waimea Community Dam as a long-term water augmentation solution for irrigators and urban residents on the Waimea Plains. To fund their portion of the Dam, WIL opened an offer to purchase water shares on 8 February. This allows shareholders to enter into agreements to apply under the Tasman Resource Management Plan (TRMP) to affiliate an existing ground water or surface water permit for water provided by the Dam, once it’s built.

WIL Director and Share Offer Ambassador Dick Bennison has been talking to landowners in the last week. While the feedback on the share offer has been very positive, some landowners have expressed confusion about their existing ground water or surface water permits and the amount of water available to them once the new TRMP rules come into effect later this year.

“My conversations have been really constructive, so I’m very encouraged,” Mr Bennison said. “One fellow told us ‘you’d be nuts not to purchase shares to ensure a secure water supply for your property, given the climate change projections.’ We’re trying to help people understand that they are securing water for today and as an investment in their future. History tells us that moving from dryland to irrigated land increases land values and land without a secure supply of water decreases in value.”

Mr Bennison said that it only took a few days to see the first applications come in, which were from small land holders.

“Landowners are asking the right questions and talking to their advisers before sending us their application for shares. Some conversations we’ve had have all of us a bit concerned that there is low understanding of the water take changes that are coming at the end of this year.

“Landowners need to really wrap their minds around the fact that their ability to take water is going to be very different in dry months. In fact, in dry months, it will be highly likely that landowners who do not have affiliated permits through WIL will have a cease take instruction. They need to review this critical information to make an informed decision before purchasing shares.”

Last winter, TDC sent 329 water permit holders on the Waimea Plains allocation assessments, giving irrigators an indication of their likely reduced water allocation if they choose not to buy shares in WIL or if the Dam doesn’t go ahead.

The outcome of this review is that in dry months when the Waimea River needs to have a minimum flow of 1,100 l/s in the with-dam scenario, the water available for landowners who haven’t affiliated their water permits will be drastically reduced and rationing will be more severe. Starting November 2018, Step 2 restrictions (2,300 l/s at the Irvines/Wairoa Gorge recorder) will mean a 50 percent cut to water use and Step 3 restrictions will mean complete cease take for unaffiliated permit holders. Based on historical flow data, the Wairoa river falls to 2,300 l/s most years.

Mr Bennison says, “There is information available on the WIL Product Disclosure Statement and in the TRMP to guide landowners. We are also making a point of telling them as we are talking to them, but we need to ensure that the word gets out widely.”

For information from TDC, go to their website www.tasman.govt.nz and locate Chapter 31 of the TRMP for guidance.

Mr Bennison and the rest of the WIL Ambassadors will continue to visit with and talk to landowners in the coming weeks as they seek a commitment of 3,000 shares to enable WIL to move forward to fund its portion of the Dam. The offer closes 22 March 2018.

Waimea Irrigators Limited is the issuer and offeror of the financial products found in the Product Disclosure Statement for the Offer of Water Shares in Waimea Irrigators Limited, dated 2 February 2018. This document is available for download on www.waimeairrigators.co.nz. Further copies of the document can be obtained by writing to Waimea Irrigators Limited, PO Box 3171, Richmond 7050 or by email to natasha@waterforlife.nz.