The controversial Waimea Dam is back on track after Tasman District councillors changed their minds and voted to continue with a new funding model.
The Tasman District Council met yesterday and voted 9-5 to revoke an in-principle decision it made on August 28 not to continue with the $100 million dam in the Lee Valley near Nelson.
The joint venture with Waimea Irrigators had been voted down the first time because of fears the dam, which would provide water for much of the region, would be too expensive for ratepayers.
Tasman Mayor Richard Kempthorne said on Thursday the decision was overturned after new information was presented to councillors that showed the cost to ratepayers of a $23m increase in the overall project price would be minimised.
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It also showed the risk of the council's credit support for a loan to irrigators through the council-controlled organisation had significantly reduced.
"[The] decision means we keep the ability to draw on $73 million in external funding for a project that will give us 100-year water security and protect the health of our precious water resource."
The decision allows the project to hold on to $55m of government funding that has an expiry date.
Kempthorne said the revised funding model meant irrigators would be effectively contributing 75 per cent of the servicing costs for the $23 million price increase.
"The decision is significant on several levels – for urban water supply, for the environment and health of the Waimea River, for rural water supply on the Waimea Plains and for our ability to service growth in Richmond, Brightwater and Mapua and their rural extensions."
Nelson National MP Nick Smith will take a local bill to Parliament on September 19. That seeks an easement on conservation land in Richmond State Forest Park for the dam project.