29 October, 2020

WAIRARAPA TIMES-AGE - EDITORIAL (Emily Ireland)

Industry backs Wakamoekau project

Water use is a massive issue in Wairarapa. Its importance has become even more evident in the past week as councils come to grips with the impact of our changing climate and increasing population will have on water supply and demand, in summer months.

Last Friday, the Carterton District Council posted a proactive and profound message to its Facebook page.

It stated: “Okay, so here’s the deal with water restrictions - it’s up to you whether we have a total ban again this year. Seriously.”

“Last summer, it was so hot and dry the stream dried up, and it’s already happening again now.

“We have an extra bore this summer, but both have limited capacity.

“When everyone uses water at the same time, the bore gets emptied.

“So, if we all try to avoid unnecessary water use between 6.30am - 10.30am and 5.30pm - 7.30pm, we can avoid going into a total ban again this summer.

“It’s really up to you to make this work.”

The post was flooded with Carterton people slamming the council saying the post was condescending.

It gained 105 comments, was shared 11 times, and very quickly, the council amended the wording.

I have to disagree with peopled who considered the post condescending. It was a serious post about our most precious resource, and the choice was given to residents to be water smart and avoid a total watering ban in summer.

Regardless of what Carterton residents choose to do to be water smart this summer, the problem of water insecurity remains across Wairarapa.

All three of our districts were plunged into a valley of brown last year. This has been the case in Wairarapa for decades. Add to this a warmer climate, and a bigger population than ever before, and it is clear the region needs something in place to keep the taps flowing.

The proposed Wakamoekau Community Water Storage Scheme (WCWSS) is an option that aims to fix this.

Many people slam the scheme as a project that will solely benefit rural irrigation. I don’t believe this is the case.

As today’s front page story shows, if we don’t have an improved water supply in our driest months, some of Wairarapa’s biggest companies and employers are under threat.

 . . . if we don’t have an improved water supply in our driest months, some of Wairarapa’s biggest companies and employers are under threat.

As former Wairarapa Federated Farmers president William Beetham once side: “Water storage and security is also crucial as a back-up when domestic supply in our towns is under strain during dry seasons”.

“It is 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.”

“There is no rural-urban divide in this case. And credit to the government for listening to the science and the strong business case.”

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