Source: Federated Farmers
The government’s decision to back the next phase of creating a sustainable water supply for the Wairarapa is outstanding news for the region, and a welcome signal of intent for the rest of New Zealand, Federated Farmers says.
A $7 million investment in Wairarapa Water Ltd for pre-construction development of water storage and distribution infrastructure at Wakamoekau and $110,000 for development of a Wairarapa water resilience strategy will come from the Provincial Growth Fund.
"This is about water security and growth enhancement for the entire community, not just agriculture and horticulture," Wairarapa Federated Farmers President William Beetham said.
"It’s sprung from a realisation that if we don’t have improved water supply, some of our biggest companies and employers are under threat going forward.
"Water storage and security is also crucial as back-up when domestic supply in our towns is under strain during dry seasons. It’s also important for our environment – with good storage we can lessen the need to take water from our rivers in the summer low flow periods."
Beetham, who is on the governance group for the Wairarapa Economic Development Strategy, says all sectors of the region had put any differences aside and worked together on the project, including rural water users, the regional council and three local authorities, businesses and all local MPs.
"There is no rural/urban divide in this case. And credit to the government for listening to the science and the strong business case."
Federated Farmers national board member and water spokesperson Chris Allen said the prosperity of drier regions of New Zealand would increasingly hinge on water security as the impacts of climate change accelerated.
"I take this as a sign we’re getting beyond the thinking that water storage is code for irrigation for dairying alone. Water security is about future proofing the prosperity of all sectors of our regions," Allen said.