Dam project has wide support: Wills

New Zealand Federated Farmers predicts the Hawke's Bay Regional Council will vote to go ahead with the Ruataniwha Dam project today and ratepayers will back the project.

President and Hawke's Bay farmer Bruce Wills said his view was that there is "overriding support" for the project which he described as "very large and courageous" and a "massive investment for Hawke's Bay long term".

"But there is no question that there are some people who aren't as persuaded as I am. There are also a number of farmers who want some questions answered from the regional council.

"There are some 70-plus farmers who have water takes that will be changed from coming out of the waterways and being picked up from the water storage dam instead.

"That is a process that will be worked through by the regional council."

The regional council proposed a 20 cents to 30 cents per cubic metre range for farmers to buy water from the dam and Mr Wills agreed the cost was "up there".

"There's no doubt this will lead to a change in land use in order for people to be able to afford to buy the water. So we need to make sure it is affordable because there is no use building the dam and making it so expensive that farmers can't see an economic driver to pick it up."

Mr Wills said he would not be able to attend the council meeting but would be waiting to hear the outcome of the vote.

"I would be surprised if it isn't supported to go through to the next stage. I think Hawke's Bay ratepayers will support it."

- Hawkes Bay Today

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