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By CATE BROUGHTON
Water quality worries remain
THE GRANTING of nine resource
consents for the Waitohi Irrigation
and Hydro Scheme is a huge step
towards making the project a reality, its
It s really important because
we re no longer something that might hap-
pen, we re a project that will get built,
Hurunui Water Project manager Amanda
Others, such as Fish & Game North
Canterbury, remain concerned about the
project s impact on water quality in the
The hearing commissioners granted the
applications but also imposed comprehen-
sive conditions on each of the consents.
The project would see four dams built
along the length of the upper Waitohi River
to hold water for irrigation taken from the
The scheme, sponsored by 200 farmers,
Ngai Tahu and Mainpower, has the poten-
tial to irrigate close to 60,000ha as far
south as Waipara and north into Cheviot,
with capacity to generate electricity.
Stage one of the project, to be completed
in five years, would include the construc-
tion of the Inches Road, Seven Hills and
Lower Gorge dams, on-plain storage, and
taking of water from two new Hurunui
intakes to irrigate about 15,500ha.
Stage two, not expected to be completed
until 2020, would add the construction of
the Hurricane Gully Dam and associated
taking of water to fill that dam, to enable
irrigation of up to 58,500ha.
An economic study by Hurunui Water
Project for its application estimates the
project could increase the district s GDP by
50 per cent, or $160 million a year.
Ms Loeffen said the project would create
more than 3300 jobs.
Hurunui District mayor Winton Dalley
said he fully supported the project and
the decision was a major step on the
journey towards its construction. He said
the district relied on land-based production
and tourism, and both needed more water
Without this, the future is stagnant, and
if we go into a dry cycle, it will go back-
wards. That s the reality, because you can t
produce more without H20.
Fish & Game North Canterbury environ-
mental adviser Scott Pearson said the com-
munity should be aware the project would
degrade the river.
In Fish & Game s view, it is not going to
maintain water quality. You just can t
develop a scheme of 58,000ha of intensive
agriculture and not have a negative impact
on water quality. Anyone who thinks you
can is dreaming.
He said while there was no doubt of the
economic benefits, the costs of the project
would be significant.
There has been a major trade off against
those environmental, recreation and amen-
ity values, particularly when it comes to the
The organisation was pleased conditions
were imposed on each consent, but was still
concerned about the effects of increased
nitrogen levels on water quality. It would
consider its options for an appeal of the
decision over the coming week.
Farm owners affected P4
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