Securing Our Region's Future
The Waimea River flows from where the Wairoa meets the Wai-iti near Brightwater, into Tasman Bay near Appleby. The river feeds the area’s aquifers and groundwater, providing water to homes and businesses.
The aquifers are the Nelson Tasman region’s natural, low-cost water storage system. Normal river flows keep these natural storage systems charged and full, which secures a supply of water for urban and rural needs at the same time that it maintains a healthy river ecology.
A healthy river is critical for the sake of the environment, to protect the community’s drinking water supplies, and so it can be enjoyed safely for fishing, swimming and other recreation.
The Waimea Community Dam would release water into the Waimea River in times of low flow to supplement the natural river flow and ensure a healthy river ecosystem. With the dam, the minimum flow in the river will not drop below 1,100 litres per second. That will result in a healthy river, maintaining natural, cultural and recreation values.
Under a no-dam scenario, the minimum river flow allowed will be 800 litres per second to protect our aquifers from the threat of saltwater intrusion contaminating our drinking water supply. However, it does not protect the natural ecosystem of the river and is unlikely to meet the national freshwater standards. The consequences of that may be that the Council is forced to consider even greater water use cuts when our planning rules are up for review again in 2025.
Click here for more information on saltwater intrusion.
The Government’s National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management sets out requirements for maintaining freshwater quality that the Council is required to meet. Based on a recommendation by water ecologists at Cawthron Institute, a minimum flow of 1,100 litres per second is the best, lowest flow possible that would still maintain the river’s health. It is expected that this minimum flow will meet the objectives of the national requirements.
The Waimea Community Dam project will receive a $7 million grant from the Government’s Freshwater Improvement Fund. The grant is recognition the dam will improve the health of the Waimea River and biodiversity in the surrounding area.
The money can only be used for the capital costs of the dam related to improving freshwater quality and biodiversity. Collectively, the work funded will provide a significant investment for native biodiversity and indigenous ecosystems on both public and privately-owned land.
In addition to the Dam creating a new minimum flow in the Waimea River, some of the other biodiversity / environmental benefits of the project are:
Back to THE NEED page
The Waimea Community Dam
Understanding the new normal climate
A regional problem
Malone: no dam option
The best solution
Frequently asked questions
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