Drive to improve Hawke's Bay water security backed by Provincial Development Unit

Published: 7 April, 2021

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The Provincial Development Unit (PDU) is supporting efforts to improve Hawke’s Bay’s water security and the environment with an additional $5 million in funding for the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council to investigate water storage for the Heretaunga Plains.

Two children are playfully splashing in a river.

Water is vital for Hawke's Bay's community to enjoy and its economy to thrive.

This $5 million is on top of $12.9 million already committed to the Heretaunga water security investigations within the broader Hawke’s Bay Regional Water Security Programme in April 2020.

The additional PDU funding includes $1.3 million for a feasibility study initially focussed on expanding an existing water storage facility near Bridge Pa.  If the study confirms the project’s viability, the PDU is also providing a further $3.7 million of loan funding to help pay for the construction of new water storage infrastructure.

The PDU’s principal regional advisor for Hawke’s Bay, Cameron Osmond, said the funding is a significant boost for the region.

"Water is one of Hawke’s Bay’s most pressing challenges and key to the region’s economic prosperity, jobs and environmental sustainability," Mr Osmond said.

"The funding is part of a total $35 million package from the PDU to help the region take a more strategic and long-term approach to water security.  This includes undertaking the region’s first Water Assessment, developing water storage options and piloting a Managed Aquifer Recharge.

"Importantly, this is not just about building the Hawke’s Bay regional economy.  It is about protecting the environment and providing long-term, climate-resilient supplies of freshwater consistent with the principles of Te Mana o te Wai," Cameron Osmond said.

"Other key objectives include building resilience to climate change and supporting land use that does not increase – and ideally reverses – negative impacts on water quality, and maintains and improves the health of waterways.

"Funding is also provided to address disparities in Māori access to water for land development."

Hawke’s Bay Regional Council’s Water Security director Tom Skerman said the state of Heretaunga’s lowland waterways in a dry summer is an an ongoing concern that must be addressed.

"The community’s demand for water exacerbates the impact on the lowland streams in the Heretaunga catchment during the height of summer and, unless we act, this impact will worsen with a changing climate," Tom Skerman said.

"We are actively investigating a range of water storage options in the Heretaunga catchment which would supplement flows in some Heretaunga lowland streams. We welcome the PDU’s support to move faster on investigating the Te Tua water storage option."

Tom Skerman said these projects have the potential to complement the changes being made to freshwater management through regulatory reform, both locally and nationally.

"We have committed to local tangata whenua leaders that any development of any freshwater storage facility and associated distribution scheme will embrace the principles of co-design."