29 October, 2020

WAIRARAPA TIMES-AGE

Water storage will make or break businesses

The proposed Wakamoekau Community Water Storage Scheme (WCWSS) could make or break the Waingawa industrial area in Carterton. Without it, jobs are at risk, some business owners say.

Waingawa Industrial Estate-based HG Group managing director Joe Harts said if the water storage project did not go ahead, “some businesses here could up and leave”.

“This would be a huge blow to the region impacting hundreds of jobs.”

JNL, one of the region’s biggest employers, said that uncertainty around security of water supply could impact on future investment opportunities and expansion of the Masterton mill.

The mill uses up to 300,000 litres of potable water per day and without it can’t operate. JNL also directly employs around 350 staff.

JNL, one of the region’s biggest employers, said that uncertainty around security of water supply could impact on future investment opportunities and expansion of the Masterton mill.

Carterton mayor Greg Lan said that the council had been actively involved with the Wakamoekau Community Water Storage project and was working industrial users.

“We are also working on a development plan for the industrial estate, so we’re aware of the demands in that area, especially regarding water,” he said.

Industry is becoming increasingly concerned about water reliability because future water allocation limits will impose severe restrictions when rivers are in low flows during the summer months.

“The economic impact of potential shutdowns due to recommended raising of the minimum flow in the Waingawa River would be catastrophic to our operations,” Higgins area manager Mark Hall said.

“These effects would obviously flow on to the region’s construction and civil engineering sectors. We would describe our services as being essential to the economic growth and sustainability of the region.”

Waingawa Industrial Estate has 29 businesses accessing water in the area as well as ratepayers spanning all the way to subdivisions.

“Some might not heavily rely on water, but some with the likes of JNL do," forest manager of JNL, Sean McBride said.

Also adding pressure, the Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) has forecast Wairarapa to come out at the extreme end of climate change predictions in New Zealand, with rising temperatures and increases in drought.

Wairarapa Water Limited, (the company investigating the Wakamoekau community project), met with a dozen industry leaders and business owners at Waingawa earlier this month to update them on progress.

To date there has been financial contributions from councils and more than 100 water users and businesses.

“The support is coming from across industry, including manufacturing, food processing, forestry and wood processing, motoring and rural supply industries,” WWL chief executive officer Robyn Wells said.

This is in addition to $7m million through the Provincial Growth Fund (PGF).

Wells the project was on track to lodge for resource consent by the end of the year and, all going to plan, start construction in late 2022.

There is ongoing engagement with stakeholders, including iwi and environmental interest groups, across the region for their views and input. Ecological, hydrological and seismic reports are being done.

Tulloch Farm Machinery general manager John Tulloch believes the Wakamoekau is the single biggest project for this region and has the potential to create many new jobs.

Tulloch Farm Machinery general manager John Tulloch believes the Wakamoekau is the single biggest project for this region and has the potential to create many new jobs.

“It could spark a whole new raft of opportunities for what can be grown in the region,” Mr Tulloch says.

Wakamoekua 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. If it gets the green light, the reservoir will harvest and store water when it is not required in winter to distribute it in the months when it is required.

“We believe that putting an additional 28 million cubic metres of water into the valley when it is needed is a benefit to all of the community,” Ms. Wells said.

“The water will be used by the environment to help maintain flows during summer periods and improve the health of our waterways; by local communities to supplement existing council supplies, by land owners for food production; and by local industries where they have a demand for council supplied water which cannot be fully met and is putting their business at risk.

ENDS

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