The Central Hawke's Bay District Council has voted unanimously to progress the possibility of a loan to help fund the development of a new dam.

The council met on Thursday to discuss whether to consult with the public on the $250,000 loan to build a new, smaller dam, as an alternative to the Ruataniwha scheme.

Consents and intellectual property for the Ruataniwha scheme were given to six Central Hawke's Bay businessmen, now known as Water Holdings CHB Ltd.

The group is asking for a $250,000 suspensory loan from ratepayers, which would go towards research into the feasibility of a new dam.


The funding would allow CHB Water Holdings to fully investigate the intellectual property and the consents they had purchased, and to "start a conversation with the public" about what water storage for CHB could look like, said CHB Water Holdings shareholder Hugh Ritchie.

"Whatever plan we come to will need to have the hearts and minds of the CHB community behind it," Ritchie said.

"This is not the RWSS revisited. This is about taking the knowledge that scheme built up - that we paid for - taking that information and creating some value from what's been spent already.

"We have no pre-ordained ideal solution. It's about standing back, looking at the opportunities, then going forward."

As well as asking for money from the council, Water Holdings CHB is also asking for money from the Provincial Growth Fund.

The new dam has already been met by opposition.

Forest and Bird regional manager Tom Kay has described the money as a potential council "handout" to a project which in the past has cost Hawke's Bay ratepayers about $20 million.