MP disputes benefits of 'dodgy dam'

By Sophie Price

9 comments
Meka Whaitiri.
Meka Whaitiri.

Kiwis deserve better than "dodgy dam claims", Labour's Local Government spokeswoman Meka Whaitiri says.

The MP for Ikaroa-Rwhiti said as an environmental regulator, Hawke's Bay Regional Council's claims that the Ruataniwha dam would bring environmental benefits are not only false but deeply irresponsible.

Last week council chairman Fenton Wilson said he was confident that together, the Plan Change 6 and the Ruataniwha scheme would provide a win-win situation for our region: "Improving the quality and quantity of water in the Tukituki River, giving farmers a secure water source for their farming operations and injecting more money into our local economy."

Mr Wilson said the Ruataniwha Water Storage Scheme was designed to fit within the overarching regulatory framework and complement it in a number of ways including providing 'flushing flows' to help remove algae from the river, migrating groundwater takes to stored water, and delivering freshwater into degraded streams.

However, Ms Whaitiri said it was outrageous that promoters of irrigation schemes are allowed to continue running the line that irrigation is beneficial for the environment.

"Freshwater ecologists, who are the experts in this field, repeatedly prove the lie to these statements and yet irrigation promoters are allowed to keep trotting out these false claims."

Ms Whaitiri said she would expect such talk from those with a vested interest in intensive dairy farming - but for it to come from our region's environmental regulator was disappointing.

"[The council] claims that the dam's 'flushing flows' will help the environment have been disproved. Research shows that flushing flows don't work."

The MP claimed the dams were bad for waterways and their ecosystems.

"The ratepayers and taxpayers - all of us who are expected to stump up millions of dollars for Ruataniwha and other subsidised irrigation schemes - deserve transparent, factual information," she said.

However, Mr Wilson said the reality was that without the dam the Tukituki catchment would not receive the range of environmental benefits the scheme provides and the local economy would miss out on the major economic boost it needs.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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