Strong Support for Waimea Dam Local Bill

21 September 2018

The Tasman District Council is heartened by the support shown at the introduction of its Local Bill to gain access to land for the Waimea Community Dam.

The bill this week passed its first reading with support from the Labour, National, NZ First and ACT parties, and has been referred to the Governance and Administration Select Committee.

Tasman Mayor Richard Kempthorne said the vote showed national-level recognition of the importance of securing an improved water supply for the people of Tasman District.

“I think the level of support acknowledges the overwhelming benefits of the dam for our region.”

The Tasman District Council (Waimea Water Augmentation Scheme) Bill seeks an inundation easement over 9.6 hectares of conservation land in the Mount Richmond State Forest Park. The easement would allow the Council, or a Council-Controlled Organisation, to create the reservoir needed for the dam. The bill also secures a right to construct the dam on Crown riverbed.

The Council sought the bill, which was presented by Nelson MP Dr Nick Smith, after the Department of Conservation advised it could no longer support obtaining the land under the Public Works Act.

The only political party that did not support this bill in its first reading was the Green Party.

“It’s unavoidable that infrastructure changes the landscape where it is built,” Richard said, “but to offset that effect we have committed to an extensive biodiversity package that offers significant environmental gains for the District.”

The biodiversity investment the Council will make as part of its resource consent conditions for the dam includes:

  • The salvage, propagation and establishment of at least three new populations of the nationally-rare New Zealand shovel mint
  • Three other rare plant species transplanted into new sites in the Wairoa Gorge conservation area, ensuring the species persist in the Lee River catchment near the dam and reservoir site
  • Re-creation of extensive tracts of rare lowland alluvial native forest in the Waimea River Park through native tree plantings
  • Restoration of a nationally-rare freshwater coastal wetland on Rough Island, including improving protection to rare or uncommon plant species
  • Investment in pest control in the upper Wairoa Gorge in partnership with DOC to conserve and enhance populations of rare land snail Wainuia nasuta.

The $7 million Freshwater Improvement Fund grant towards the dam project recognised the environmental benefits of the project, Richard said, and was tagged to the capital costs of the dam relating to improving freshwater quality and biodiversity.