Loss of council support doesn't stop need for water in Hawke's Bay

Federated Farmers says the decision by Hawke’s Bay Regional Council to withdraw support from the Ruataniwha Dam project leaves questions around the region’s future water storage capability.

Councillors voted today to abandon the project which has turned into a long running saga mired in legal technicalities and challenges.

"This was inevitable but still a gut buster for those who’ve been in behind the scheme from day one. It was an ambitious project but it certainly was achievable," says Federated Farmers’ Hawke’s Bay Provincial President Will Foley.

"In some ways it is good that the council has finally called it. This whole process has been confusing for all involved as it wasn’t that long ago the council voted to continue support."

Farmers who invested in the scheme can now move on and consider what’s best for them and their business.

But the question of water storage and the region’s future resilience against droughts is still on the table.

"Hawke’s Bay Regional Council has spent about $20 million on the scheme and it seems such a waste to walk away from it. I’m sure the ratepayers would like to see some sort of return from this.

"I know the council are concerned about future drought mitigation and they will have to ultimately revisit the idea of water storage and how that is achievable.

"This might still be a viable opportunity for outside investment.

"The reality is something will need to be done. Let’s get on with finding a solution and get out of this negative space which has been part of this unfortunate saga," says Will.