Water storage has been considered in Wairarapa for many years. The motivation to establish a more reliable source of water was initially sparked by the severe drought of 1997-98. Following this, funding for a national research project was provided by Central Government.
Initial investigations into potential schemes for Wairarapa started in the early 2000s. Over that time, a number of comprehensive reports have been produced that provide deep insights into climate and seasonal rainfall patterns, volumes and flows in our waterways and the geological make up of possible storage sites.
Studies during this time have also looked at the potential economic, social and cultural opportunities a regional water storage scheme could provide.
WAIRARAPA WATER USE PROJECT
The Wairarapa Water Use Project was set up in 2010 by Greater Wellington Regional Council (GWRC) to formally take the initiative from initial scoping through a series of feasibility stages. In 2016, the initiative was renamed ‘Water Wairarapa’.
Crown Irrigation Investment Limited (CIIL) co-funded with GWRC Pre-Feasibility activities to investigate how water in the Wairarapa could be stored and distributed in a way that contributed to both economic growth and overall environmental sustainability.
Work in this Pre-Feasibility Phase included an initial Scoping Study, an Options Identification and Analysis Phase, an Options Refinement Phase, a Prefeasibility Phase, and early Feasibility investigations involving a geotechnical drilling programme, on-farm case studies and financial modelling work. The investigations started with 243 potential water storage sites and progressively and logically were refined to the Wakamoekau site – the preferred site for a community water storage project in the Wairarapa. This investigation work was wound up in the year ended 30 June 2018.
Following this, Wairarapa Water Limited (WWL) was established and worked with GWRC and the three local District Councils to prepare an application for PGF funding in order to complete Pre-Feasibility work and plan the next phase of the project. That application resulted in a Funding agreement for $800,000 commencing on 1 May 2019.
On 15 January 2020 a further $7million of funding was awarded to progress the work required to complete feasibility studies, lodge a resource consent application and prepare for construction start targeted in 2023.
WWL continues to actively engage and work in collaboration with GWRC and the three Wairarapa Councils as key Local Government stakeholders in the project.