The Hawke's Bay Regional Council will today be told by its investment company if a condition for the Ruataniwha Water Scheme to go ahead has been met: that enough users have signed up to take water.
A water sign-up of 45 million cubic metres is one of the conditions which has to be met before the council will invest the remaining $66 million into the dam.
April 18 was the final day for farmers to sign up, but the Hawke's Bay Regional Council Investment Company (HBRIC) would not say publicly if the vital target had been met until it had reported back to its shareholder, the regional council, and potential investors.
Council chief executive Liz Lambert said if the water uptake met the council's conditions it was "just another piece in the jigsaw".
"It's another step along the way," she said. "Every step so far has been a step forward and I'm hopeful tomorrow will be as well."
Chairman Fenton Wilson said he was hoping today would help "get a bit more meat on the bones" of the scheme.
"Depending on what [HBRIC] tell us, if the condition precedent is met we'll begin working towards a council meeting which brings all the information together to decide on what happens next," he said.
Council would need to "temper" the number of users with information about HBRIC's idea of "where to from here".
Mr Wilson said he did not know whether such a meeting would wait until the next council meeting at the end of May, or if there could be grounds for a special meeting held earlier.
Ms Lambert said the water uptake was not the final condition, but it was a critical one as it was the condition HBRIC had the least control over.
When asked, neither Mr Wilson nor Ms Lambert knew exactly what would happen if the condition was not met.
Mr Wilson said: "We will temper any number or information with advice from HBRIC, if it's not a goer then we'll go from there."
He said the data collected for the scheme would still be owned by council in 10 years time, so the project could be revisited.
"We get to the pointy end of the decision but the data is always sitting there," he said.
The uptake is one of the items HBRIC will be updating the council on, the others being the scheme's investor process, the Forest and Bird DOC Land Exchange Appeal, and a Deloitte review. A report which will be presented to council today stated: "There has been a very strong community response to this process with circa 200 water user agreements in the market with 20 per cent of these being completely new customers requesting water in the past three weeks."
Yesterday Greenpeace spoke out against the "doomed" scheme and called for council to "ditch it" at today's meeting.
Agriculture campaigner Genevieve Toop said it made no sense economically or environmentally.
"This huge, costly irrigation plan will industrialise our farms, probably bankrupt more New Zealand farmers and increase pollution into our rivers.
"And, if it goes ahead, it will hoover up hundreds of millions of dollars of taxpayers and ratepayers' money."
Mr Wilson said this was "more of the same", and he had no comment on Greenpeace's view on the world.