Waimea Augmentation Scheme gains $7 Million of Government Environmental Support

Tuesday 8 August 2017

The Government has recognised the contribution the Waimea Community Dam will make to enhance the ecology of the Waimea River by providing higher water flows, announcing a $7 million grant from its Freshwater Improvement Fund.

The proposed Waimea Augmentation Scheme has gained the Government’s support in today’s announcement of $7million grant from its Freshwater Improvement Fund.

The $7million over three years announced today by Minister for the Environment Hon Nick Smith will support the delivery of the public good portion of the proposed Waimea Community Dam and reflects the environmental benefits which will come with improved water flows.

This contribution from the Government recognises the importance of the sustainable long term health of the Waimea River to the Nelson-Tasman region, said Tasman Mayor Richard Kempthorne.

One of the cornerstones of the Waimea Augmentation Scheme is the ability to maintain an environmental flow in the river to support its health and the well-being of life within it and to reduce the risk of salt water intrusion.

The Waimea River provides so much to the District, whether environmental, economic or social.  All those who live, work and play on the Plains have reason to be concerned about the health of the river itself.

Fish & Game Nelson manager Rhys Barrier is pleased to hear the Council has been successful in application for the grant towards solving historic water over-allocation issues on the Waimea Plains. 

“Doing nothing is not really an option, given the pressing needs of increasing Richmond urban supply, existing irrigation security, and future expectations of New Zealanders around maintaining and improving river health”, said Mr Barrier.   

Mayor Kempthorne said: “One of the facts we have to face is the slow degradation of the river and without support for its flow, especially over the drier months, it is only going to degrade further.  I for one, and I imagine many others, cannot imagine life without it.

“Having a healthy river supported by an enhanced flow will also protect the aquifers from the risk of saltwater intrusion. I have heard comment that the scheme will merely allow water to flow out to sea. Without water flowing to the sea, the river cannot support life, support the groundwater and aquifers nor repel saltwater from the aquifers.

“With the grant from the Freshwater Improvement Fund the Waimea Augmentation Scheme is a step closer to fulfilling this role.”

There are a number of conditions attached to the grant;

  • It must be accompanied by other funding streams,
  • The associated accounts will need to be audited, and
  • The grant is to be used solely for the environmental benefit/public good portion of the Scheme.