15 May, 2020:

A Masterton motor vehicle dealership is joining a growing number of local businesses determined to see the Wakamoekau Community Water Storage Scheme in the hills above Masterton go ahead.

Eastwood Motor Group is literally driving home its support with sponsorship of a brand new Suzuki Vitara for the Wairarapa Water Limited-led project.

The motor vehicle dealership’s help comes on top of financial backing from almost 20 other Wairarapa businesses, all acutely aware of the importance of water security to ensure their businesses can continue operating and keep their employees on. The support is across industry including manufacturing, food processing, forestry and wood processing, motoring and rural supply industries.

Eastwood Motor Group dealer-principal, Gary Allan, says supporting the Wakamoekau Community Water Storage Scheme is a “no brainer”.

“Water security is one of the biggest issues facing the Wairarapa, and as a local business, that employs 30 staff, we want to do our bit to ensure the region has a good future,” Mr Allan says.

JNL Masterton and Higgins Wairarapa who combined employ over 450 staff, have also provided financial support to the project.

Eastwood Motor Group dealer-principal, Gary Allan, hands over the keys to WWL boss Robyn Wells.

Wairarapa comes out at the extreme end of climate change predictions, according to NIWA (Water and Atmospheric Research), with more hotter temperatures and increase in drought which would have significant ramifications for primary industries and flow on effects for water supply.

Industry and the community is becoming increasingly concerned about water reliability in the future. New water allocation limits that will come into effect within a few years will impose severe restrictions when rivers are in low flows during the summer months.

“Some people seem to forget that farmers are not the only ones that need water; industry depends on it too, and so do towns” Mr Allan says.

“Big businesses, like JNL for example, employ over 300 people, and without water the mill can’t operate,” he says.

JNL’s Masterton mill general manager Karl Burling says, uncertainty around security of water supply could impact on future investment opportunities and expansion of the mill.

“The mill uses up to 300,000 litres of potable water per day and without it we can’t operate,” Mr Burling says.

Higgins Wairarapa area manager Mark Hall says, security of supply created by the community water storage project is crucial.

“We need the scheme to sustain our business. Without water it will kill the whole viability of our operation,” Mr Hall says.

Wakamoekau is a small-scale scheme consisting of a reservoir in the hills north-west of Masterton, with a holding capacity of up to 19 million cubic metres of water and supplying about 28 million cubic metres a year. The reservoir will harvest and store water when it is not required in winter to distribute it in the months when it is required.

The scheme has the potential to address environmental, town supply, industrial and food and fibre production security of water supply needs due to climate change pressures and rising environmental standards.

WWL chief executive, Robyn Wells, says to date almost 20 businesses have made a financial contribution, demonstrating the wide support for the scheme.

“The support is coming from across industry, including manufacturing, food processing, forestry and wood processing, motoring and rural supply industries,” Ms Wells says.

“We even received offers of financial contributions from businesses during the Covid-19 lockdown period which is a really strong indication of the level of industry support.”

Wakamoekau has government support, awarded $7m illion through the Provincial Growth Fund (PGF) in January to progress the work required to complete feasibility studies, lodge a resource consent application and prepare for construction.

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