Dam risk-analysis needed: Arnott

By Sophie Price

7 comments
Barbara Arnott
Barbara Arnott

A renewed call for a risk analysis on the Ruataniwha dam has been made by former Napier Mayor Barbara Arnott.

She said without such a detailed analysis a huge risk was put onto the regional ratepayers.

Three years ago, Mrs Arnott, in her capacity as the Mayor of Napier, along with her Hastings counterpart Lawrence Yule, wrote to Hawke's Bay Regional Council chairman Fenton Wilson.

The mayors said, at the time, that such a risk assessment had not been well presented to the public, but that such a thoroughly prepared analysis, in a single document, would be helpful to all parties including the council itself.

Talking now as a member of the public, Mrs Arnott said, while most of the issues in the letter had been addressed by the council, such as conflict of interest with councillors sitting on the HBRIC board, both herself and the public had yet to see a risk-analysis document.

She said, if HBRIC had completed such an analysis, then she would be the first one to say that was "great".

However, she had not seen evidence one had been done. "If that was done and it was mitigated then the ratepayers should be seeing that, because then it is open. But it seems to me that this is a huge risk on the ratepayers."

While not producing such an analysis in a single document, the regional council's chief executive Liz Lambert said the council ran a full feasibility study explicitly designed to deal with the opportunity and risks associated with the Ruataniwha Water Storage Scheme. "The council's decision to invest $80 million in the scheme, subject to conditions, included a public consultation period and a statement of proposal which was signed off by the auditors and included explicit coverage of project risks," she said.

She said after that decision the regional council transferred the development of the project to HBRIC to properly assess the project risk.

"The key point is the development process is being undertaken by a limited liability company, this in itself is a risk-management strategy," she said.

HBRIC chief executive Mr Newman said the company runs a comprehensive risk register which is reviewed and updated regularly.

He said the scheme has been subject to extreme scrutiny, both economically and environmentally. All elements of the scheme have been carefully assessed and independently reviewed.

Alongside the work HBRIC had undertaken, the potential investors had carried out their own due diligence and risk analysis of the scheme, he said.

Mr Newman said as recently as this week there was yet another round of risk assessment by HBRC done by their independent advisors Deloitte and that this work was ongoing.

However, Mrs Arnott said it seemed to her that it still appeared the risk posed by the dam in the long run had shifted to the ratepayer alone.

"Because everyone else is only looking for a return," she said.

"So, if something goes wrong, those funders will lose money but the cost of things like repairs, clean up, reconstruction, either in the dam or the pipe works, seems be resting with the ratepayers."

A detailed risk analysis document would outline all of that.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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