Details announced of water scheme

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The two companies responsible for design and planning of the Ruataniwha water storage scheme are likely to be selected by Hawke's Bay Regional Council at the end of this month.

The council's investment company is leading the project and although it does not have a resource consent, it said it was necessary to line up companies interested in the dam's construction.

The investment company will also spend the next five months locking down commitment from farmers who are interested in using the water supply from the dam. It was also developing a package for farmers to potentially invest in the scheme.

More field days will be held for farmers considering being part of the scheme and each one has a focus, such as arable farming, beef, sheep and dairy.

The investment company and BNZ Advisory are considering a "Build, Operate, Own and Transfer" (BOOT) approach to encourage investors. Under this plan, investors would buy into the scheme and receive set returns for an agreed number of years, between 35 to 70 years, after which the scheme would be transferred back to regional council, and public, ownership.

At this stage of modelling for the project the price of water is estimated at between 22 to 25 cents per cubic metre. An accurate price will be available in September when design and construction costs had been finalised. Discount options are being developed for farmers who commit to the scheme early on.

The investment company will apply for 18 different consents to develop the scheme and currently 34 separate supporting reports are being finalised. If granted consent, the scheme will operate within the limits of the Tukituki Plan Change and in accordance with sound environmental practice.

The plan change was adopted last week by the regional council and it sets new rules for managing water and land in the catchment, as well as limits on nitrogen and phosphorus in the Tukituki River.

- HAWKES BAY TODAY

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