Concerns raised over silt blocking water supply

By Sophie Price

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It has been claimed Wairoa could struggle to get water if the Waihi Dam issue is not addressed.
It has been claimed Wairoa could struggle to get water if the Waihi Dam issue is not addressed.

Wairoa township could struggle to get water in the future if the Waihi Dam issue is not addressed soon says regional council chairman Fenton Wilson.

At the council's general meeting yesterday, the company allegedly responsible for what Councillor Rick Barker termed the "wanton damage" was taken to task for not addressing the issue of the silt influx into the Wairoa river systems more urgently.

"The frustration has got to be seen to be believed," Mr Wilson said.

"There is a chance that the Wairoa township, and the biggest user in the town Affco, will struggle to get water in the near future if this thing is not remedied, or nature doesn't intervene and put a cyclone through to clean the channel out.

"This is beyond just frustration, this is actually extremely serious and of national significance."

Mr Wilson said the Eastland Group had to front up and fix the problem, and that the length of time it had taken "beggars belief".

"These guys have got interests all over New Zealand and the world, and yet they treat the Wairoa district like a dumping ground and I think we are all sick of it," he said.

"So going forward, the sooner this thing is finished and behind us the better."

Council's group manager of resource management Iain Maxwell said the group had "failed".

"The way the Eastland Group has approached this has been incredibly lackadaisical.

"It's been ambivalent, it's been without urgency and they failed in my opinion to understand the significance of this event and have failed to take action in a timely manner to deal with it."

He said whether his feelings are right or not would come out in the investigation that was currently being undertaken by the regional council into the problem.

Mr Barker questioned why the problem had not been addressed by council sooner.

"If the staff say we could do nothing more than that, that may be the case," he said.

"But if that's what turns out of this investigation, well then I want change. I do not want to see us be in a position where something like that is wrong and eminently fixable and we cannot go and fix it."

When it came to the environmental damage Mr Barker said "we have all lost".

"And while we were losing Eastland stood by did nothing, said nothing - a complete wall of silence for months," he said.

"The cost has been to all of our communities, significant cost and I am brassed off to the bloody hilt," he said.

Mr Wilson agreed with Mr Barker saying if there were processes the council could fix they needed to be looked at.

"If there is a challenge to the way the RMA [Resource Management Act] is affected nationally we need to challenge that because this can't be a blueprint for disaster in the future, and it is a disaster," he added.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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