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TDC confirms its commitment to dam consultation

April 11th, 2016
[TDC press release]

The Tasman District Council has confirmed its commitment to run a timely, well-informed engagement process about the proposed Waimea Community Dam with its residents and ratepayers in 2017.

Council Chief Executive Lindsay McKenzie reported to a recent meeting that concerns residents expressed about the lack of detail in 2014 consultation needed to be properly addressed.

"The onus is on the Council to present as complete a proposal as possible and in order to do that we need to have a greater level of certainty about a number of the project's key elements including the cost and where the funds are coming from.

"To achieve certainty, we've put priority on gaining the required land and access to the site and on identifying a contractor and getting a tender price for the project.

"This work does not mean the decision has been made to build the dam, far from it. Knowing that we can obtain land, a contractor and at what price is fundamental to the discussion with residents and ratepayers which in turn will inform any decision made by the Council.

"The other priority is of course how the dam is going to paid for. The Council has reaffirmed its budget contribution to fund $28.1M of the current project funding P95 estimate of $82.5M. This amount is the $25M set aside in the Long Term Plan and a share of the pre-2015 costs.

"The remaining two-thirds of the P95 estimate still needs to be found, mostly by the irrigators and rural users who will receive benefits from the dam's capacity. While early planning suggests there has been a fairly good response to take-up of capacity, there is a substantial shortfall.

(P95 is a risk rating that indicates there is a 95% likelihood the dam can be built for the estimated amount or less.)

"We acknowledge there is a big hurdle to overcome, but the Council is committed to supporting Waimea Community Dam Ltd (WCDL), the company representing irrigators, to try and bridge that gap.

"However, as we have confirmed our commitment in the current LTP budget, it's most unlikely to be bridged by additional Council funding," concluded Mr McKenzie.

"In the meantime, the process of finding a suitable contractor to build the dam and obtaining a tender price needs to start. Having a price is essential to engaging with residents and ratepayers early next year.

"To achieve this, the joint venture that will build the dam needs to enter a contract with the dam builder. As a joint venture has not been established yet, the Council has decided to enter into an agreement with WCDL (as the body representing irrigators and the principal future JV partner), to jointly manage and jointly fund the procurement process, which is expected to cost approximately $1M.

"This is a long term-project, and a crucial one for our district. For the sake of ratepayers and irrigators who will be providing funding, we need the joint venture to be on the right footing from the start.

"I am confident that if this happens residents, ratepayers and water users will be fully informed about the true costs and benefits of the project before the parties need to make a final commitment."


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