Report: Not building dam could cost $700M

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An independent report into the potential financial and economic impacts of not proceeding with the Waimea Community Dam has been released.

The report, by Northington Partners, found the total cost to the Nelson Tasman region could be $700 million in a no-dam situation as a result of increasingly severe water rationing measures.

Tasman Mayor Richard Kempthorne says that while the benefits of the dam to urban water users are well known to council, the report quantifies the wider benefits to the environment and therefore the whole community.

“It is critical that the irrigators on the Plains understand the benefits to them and the costs of doing nothing.  Now is the time for them to commit to take up capacity. The report makes the case for that quite strongly as well as the case for a wider regional and even national investment in the scheme.

“The Council needs a secure water supply to enable urban development.  The Council’s ability to meet that demand is under threat without the solution provided by an improved water supply during summer months. While economics is an important factor, we also have social, cultural and environmental responsibilities and this report makes the case for all parties to join our commitment and invest for current and future generations.’’

Nelson Mayor Rachel Reese also welcomed the report.

“We continue to be fully supportive of considering this issue on a regional basis. Primary users on the Waimea Plains are major contributors to the wider region’s economy, and this report reinforces the high-level economic impact of how water shortages affect this sector.”