The Ruataniwha dam project is turning into a huge white elephant as the economics fail to stack up, says Labour’s Water spokesperson Meka Whaitiri.
“Ruataniwha simply doesn’t make economic sense when you look at other major irrigation schemes around the country. In today’s prices the Opuha dam in Canterbury cost less than $60 million for 70 million cubic metres of usable water. In contrast Ruataniwha will cost $275 million for 90 million cubic metres of water.
“Taxpayers have already forked out $ 25 million in set up costs without a single sod being turned.
“Farmer sign up is still low and the mystery third investor to partner the Hawkes Bay Regional Investment Company and the Crown has not yet materialised.
“Last week the Board of Inquiry into Ruataniwha imposed a stringent maximum level of dissolved nitrogen in the catchment. The inquiry says this level has already been exceeded in some places by at least double. This will make the job of meeting these nitrogen levels with intensive farming even more difficult.
“It is time for the Hawkes Bay Regional Council to make some hard decisions before the elephant bolts,“ says Meka Whaitiri.