Recharge trial delay a big deal

EDITORIAL

The follow-on objection by Rongowhakaata Iwi Trust to a resource consent for the second stage of Managed Aquifer Recharge trials is a big deal, pushing it out by a year — and perhaps calling the whole effort into question — for what is by far the biggest employment and growth initiative in the Tairawhiti Economic Action Plan.

The Makauri Aquifer is in decline and if it is not replenished, takes from it will need to drop to 30 percent of current water allocated. It now supplies about 60 percent of the water used to irrigate 3000ha of land on the Poverty Bay Flats.

“Without irrigation, the bottom drops out of the business case for horticulture on the Poverty Bay Flats with major implications for the regional economy,” wrote the authors of the action plan.

What implications? Large employment and GDP losses, the potential departure of LeaderBrand, the folding of apple and kiwifruit ventures, lives turned upside down.

Alternatively, the best-case scenario sees a recharging aquifer enabling a doubling of land under irrigation to 6000ha, a $160 million boost to annual regional GDP and 1100 more jobs — out of 1260 jobs targeted for creation in the plan.

The key benefit of recharging the aquifer, a common practice globally, is that the water source is already in a reservoir and in most cases is directly below the land being irrigated, so requires minimal infrastructure investment.

Hence the new Government — which has ended taxpayer funding for big irrigation dams — has committed $542,000 to the second-stage trial, as long as community funding continues. That would not be at risk, with the council and Eastland Community Trust right behind the project to date.

Mangatu Blocks and Wi Pere Trust have also supported the trials, even though their operations have not historically taken water from the Makauri Aquifer. They back the effort to “future proof” water supply for the district’s horticulture.

Despite all this there will be much sympathy for the stance Rongowhakaata have taken — over their cultural and environmental concerns, but in particular the kicking down the road of fervent iwi aspirations to stop the discharge of treated human waste into our bay.

The follow-on objection by Rongowhakaata Iwi Trust to a resource consent for the second stage of Managed Aquifer Recharge trials is a big deal, pushing it out by a year — and perhaps calling the whole effort into question — for what is by far the biggest employment and growth initiative in the Tairawhiti Economic Action Plan.

The Makauri Aquifer is in decline and if it is not replenished, takes from it will need to drop to 30 percent of current water allocated. It now supplies about 60 percent of the water used to irrigate 3000ha of land on the Poverty Bay Flats.

“Without irrigation, the bottom drops out of the business case for horticulture on the Poverty Bay Flats with major implications for the regional economy,” wrote the authors of the action plan.

What implications? Large employment and GDP losses, the potential departure of LeaderBrand, the folding of apple and kiwifruit ventures, lives turned upside down.

Alternatively, the best-case scenario sees a recharging aquifer enabling a doubling of land under irrigation to 6000ha, a $160 million boost to annual regional GDP and 1100 more jobs — out of 1260 jobs targeted for creation in the plan.

The key benefit of recharging the aquifer, a common practice globally, is that the water source is already in a reservoir and in most cases is directly below the land being irrigated, so requires minimal infrastructure investment.

Hence the new Government — which has ended taxpayer funding for big irrigation dams — has committed $542,000 to the second-stage trial, as long as community funding continues. That would not be at risk, with the council and Eastland Community Trust right behind the project to date.

Mangatu Blocks and Wi Pere Trust have also supported the trials, even though their operations have not historically taken water from the Makauri Aquifer. They back the effort to “future proof” water supply for the district’s horticulture.

Despite all this there will be much sympathy for the stance Rongowhakaata have taken — over their cultural and environmental concerns, but in particular the kicking down the road of fervent iwi aspirations to stop the discharge of treated human waste into our bay.

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John Porter - 4 months ago
This is an email I posted to several relevant GDC members. It provides an alternative solution to the aquifer recharge issue:
I came across this website from the Texas Weather Modification Association about ??Weather Modification and its Impacts on Long Term Water Management? 2015. The link is: http://texasweathermodification.com/NEW/TWMAPres.pdf
The section which should be of interest to the group is headed ?The impacts of Weather Modification on Recharge in West Texas?. The method used is cloud seeding and is therefore dependent on the regular presence of suitable clouds. Texas is very susceptible to drought. Annual precipitation for the target area ranges from 15 to 20 inches.
You will find that the Benefit Cost Analysis is significant, claiming an overall economic impact of $US10m a year.
My method should be able to double or triple that figure for the Tairawhiti region given the fact that I am able to generate weather conditions to suit, as was noted by media for last year (2017).
Something to consider for an uncertain future.

Obviously GDC is not in favour. Let the community decide.

JOHN PORTER

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