Final Price - a Setback and a Challenge

Thursday 19 July 2018

The process to reach a final price has been concluded for the construction of the Waimea water augmentation dam. The 2015 budget estimate for the dam construction was $49.8 million and the Early Contractor Involvement agreed final project cost is $68.1 million therefore a difference of around $18 million.

There are other workstreams still to be finalised and we have reason to believe those other costs are likely to be in the order of $8m over the estimate.  So the total cost could be $26m more than estimated in 2015. Unless a solution can be found to close the gap, the dam won’t go ahead.

“I am gutted about this but I know that security of water supply is increasingly becoming a critical issue, locally and globally,” said Tasman Mayor Richard Kempthorne. “The Waimea water augmentation dam represents a complete solution to urban and rural water supply for the Richmond, Brightwater, Mapua and Waimea areas for generations to come.

“It has always been a bold and ambitious project but the case for it is compelling, the consequences of cutbacks in water allocations across the Waimea Plains and more frequent and severe restrictions will have significant implications for the Tasman and Nelson economy and lifestyle. If the case was not strong we would not be seeing $49m of the cost being met by other parties - Government and irrigators.

“We have a price and it is higher than our 2015 estimate and higher than those supporting the scheme would have hoped for. There is no doubt this is a major setback and possibly the greatest challenge yet for the project.

“While the opponents of the dam may relish it and hope it brings a 15 year project to an end, I am still hopeful that we can find a way to bridge the gap.

“I reiterate, security of water supply is a global issue as well as a very real local issue for our community. I am certain that if the dam does not proceed then it, or another equivalent solution, will be back on the table again at some point, that it will be more expensive, and that we will have suffered significant economic, environmental and social costs in the meantime. It has taken 15 years to get to this point. If we don’t get this over the line and we lose the $49 million from Government and irrigators, we are done!

“The issue is a critical one for every single person in the Richmond, Brightwater, Mapua and Waimea areas, for business and industry, for infrastructure such as our Port and for the wider Tasman and Nelson communities. The ongoing success of the Tasman and Nelson region is at stake.

“We need to find a way forward, and not give up until we have exhausted all options. We cannot take the availability of water for granted, nor can we leave it to chance. It is our responsibility to plan for a sustainable and resilient district that has every opportunity to thrive.

“This seems impossible, but our challenge now is to achieve the impossible.”