The Tasman District Council and Waimea Irrigators Limited (WIL) have advertised for expressions of interest from contractors as the first step towards confirming the cost of building the Waimea Community Dam.
Council and WIL have invited contractors to provide a Statement of Interest and Ability as the initial step towards a process known as early contractor involvement. Early contractor involvement does not commit the council to building the dam. However, it allows a preferred contractor to help complete the dam’s design and agree to a price – an essential piece of information for the public consultation process planned for later this year.
Council chief executive Lindsay McKenzie says early contractor involvement would give a clear indication of the dam’s construction cost. The current total cost estimate for the project is $82.5 million, with construction making up about $50 million of that.
“It’s important for us to have an agreed price for building the Waimea Community Dam before we ask our community for feedback on the overall package. The total project budget will be a key factor for people to assess the merit of the proposals. Early contractor involvement will give us as much certainty as possible about the build price, allowing us to present a well-informed overall project estimate, without committing us to a final decision,” says Lindsay.
The Statements of Interest and Ability close on April 28, 2017.
Council has also moved forward with a formal process to secure land for the project by advertising the first of several Notices of Intention under the Public Works Act. These notices set out the process by which council will take the land if a voluntary agreement with landowners is not possible.
The notices have been advertised now to provide enough lead time to purchase the private land needed if the project goes ahead. Even if the project does not proceed in the short term, council believes this land should be secured as a future water storage site in the long term strategic interests of the Tasman District and wider region.
Council has been working to gather a complete set of information on the dam proposal including its likely costs, confirmed funding sources, land availability, scientific basis, construction standards and ongoing management, to present to the community.
Tasman Mayor Richard Kempthorne says council had asked the public for its views on a model for paying for the dam in 2014, but the consultation this year would be based on a different funding scenario, and far more complete information about the implications of the project.
“I know there are a lot of questions people want answered about this project. Ratepayers want to know what the proposal is going to cost them and they want to know what irrigators and other beneficiaries of the dam are going to contribute. People want to be able to assess the merits of the dam over the alternative options, and they want to be sure we have fully considered the science behind it. They also want to be assured that construction standards can overcome any risks from natural disaster or other hazards. The governance structure for the dam, should it be built, will also be an important consideration,” says Richard.