Northland Regional Council Water Storage Project development manager Andrew Carvell (R) and farmer Terence Brocx, a member of the Northland Water Storage and Use Advisory Group check a site as areas in both the Far North and Kaipara are being investigated for water storage

Water storage consultation underway

by Paul Campbell

Consultations with landowners and producers in the primary sector are underway to explore how to spend almost $13 million received from the Provincial Growth Fund to make water infrastructure in Kaipara and Northland more resilient to extreme weather events.

The Northland Regional Council is looking at options for potential major water storage projects in Kaipara and the mid-North, and as drought takes hold in the region, public information sessions have been held with experts discussing opportunities that exist within the horticulture sector.

The PGF funding was announced in Kaipara last month, by Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters and Regional Development Minister, Shane Jones.

The areas that could potentially be suitable for development are broadly in the south of Dargaville and an area surrounding Kaikohe, Ohaeawai and Waimate North in the mid-North.

“The project will see a series of small-scale reservoirs be built in Kaipara and the mid-North that would collect and store water in times of plenty and then be able to deliver it through a network of pipes when needed for municipal and productive use,“ says NRC project development manager, Andrew Carvell

With meetings held in Dargaville and the mid-north this week as Lifestyler went to press, local horticulturalists said the public information sessions were a transformational experience for some landowners.

“Access to water is currently a major limiting factor for many Northland communities, and we are seeing the effects of water shortages across the region right now. Without access to a reliable source of water, your options for farming or growing are pretty limited really, but once people see what’s possible when water is available, I think they’ll be quite inspired,” grower, Carl Muller said.

“A hectare of land in sustainable horticulture can return significantly more than one supporting pastoral farming. You can bring positive change to entire communities by giving people the opportunity to do more with their land.”

Oturei farmer Dennis Te Tuhi currently runs a 40-hectare sheep and beef farm south of Dargaville.

“We have good soils for horticulture, but as we’re finding out right now, we’re vulnerable to mother nature if it doesn’t rain. This water storage scheme would mean I could have confidence that any investment made to develop it would not be wasted.”

Mr Carvell added that while primarily designed to support horticulture, the scheme would also be available to assist existing municipal water supplies and greatly reduce the exposure to domestic water restrictions such as those in place in parts of Northland at present. Any potential project must also provide positive environmental benefits.