HB Fish & Game Statement on Ruataniwha Water

Hawke’s Bay Fish & Game – statement on the Ruataniwha water storage scheme
The following points aim to summarise and clarify Hawkes Bay Fish & Game’s position on
this issue:
1. We are not opposed in principle to the water storage scheme, including the dam, but
promised improved flows over the summer months cannot be guaranteed. We have
no confidence in HBRC’s assurances on this, given what we regard as their long term
failure to properly manage the resource, and the present situation in which ground
and surface water is over-allocated.
2. Our major concerns centre on the additional river pollution we believe will result
from the intensified land use the dam will allow.
3. We believe that Hawkes Bay Regional Council (HBRC) has failed to adequately
explore smaller on-farm community schemes which would allow for water to be
stored where it is needed.
4. We are completely dissatisfied with HBRC’s public consultation process for the
scheme -- We believe HBRC entered the consent and consultation process with a
preconceived outcome of building the dam.
5. We don’t believe HBRC has been open with the public about the impacts of the dam
– the regional council claims the dam will improve water quality through improved
flows – this is a positive step -- however any improved flows will be more than offset
by the five-fold increase in nitrates runoff from intensified land use.
6. HBRC reports suggest that nitrate levels from increased farm runoff into the Tukituki
River, for example, will rise by over 500%, allowing pollution to reach what even it
terms ‘toxic’ levels.
7. We are very concerned that the Tukituki River in particular will end up closed to the
public (as it is now over the summer months) because it is unsafe for swimming and
other recreational pursuits due to the levels of e-coli and phormidium (toxic algae)
as a result of the dam.
8. We are concerned that HBRC appears to be dysfunctional and has failed in its
governance role. The regional council and the Hawkes Bay Regional Investment
Company (HBRIC) it controls has now spent in the order of $10 million on the
project, and risk losing face if the project doesn’t go ahead as planned.
9. We believe HBRC needs to return to protecting and enhancing the environment, not
allowing a major increase in pollution which it admits WILL result from the dam.
Those responsible for allowing a serious decline in water quality should be held to
10. We support the Mayors of both Napier and Hastings who have sought an
independent peer review of the water storage scheme to make sure the ratepayer
risk is accounted for in the regional council's plans. We agree with the statement
that so far, the serious concerns of the Mayors, business leaders, iwi leaders,
environmental groups and submitters have gone unheeded.
11. In summary, we believe it entirely inappropriate that Hawke’s Bay ratepayers are
being forced to fund a project in the absence of any real evidence to support its
financial and environmental benefits.
Fish & Game's statutory roles are to manage, maintain and enhance sports fish and game:
Fish & Game is NOT anti-farming, we are pro-environmentally sustainable farming.
Adverse environmental effects of agriculture are real and on-going.
Agriculture is therefore affecting the raw material (the habitat) of Fish & Game’s core
The Sustainable Dairying Water Accord (formerly Dairying and Clean Streams Accord) is
voluntary, has incomplete goals, and refers only to some of the aspects of dairy farming that
degrade the environment.
As the Accord is voluntary, there is no guarantee that the goals will be implemented.