New group to host dampublic meetings
A new incorporated society, established to provide ‘‘accurate information’’ on the proposed Waimea dam, plans to host a series of public meetings.
Water Information Network Inc (WIN) was incorporated on October 6. Its rules say the purposes of the society are to provide accurate information regarding the Waimea catchment water and to do anything necessary or helpful to the above purposes.
WIN secretary, researcher and former Tasman District Council candidate Murray Dawson, said public meetings were scheduled to be held from October 30 at Rich- mond, Brightwater, Motueka, Collingwood and Takaka.
On the establishment of the society, Dawson said he had been irritated by ‘‘misinformation that was being put out’’ about the proposed $82.5 million dam in the Lee Valley, near Nelson.
‘‘The dam campaign has become a propaganda campaign,’’ Dawson said. ‘‘The public should have some more accurate information.’’
Tasman District Council and Waimea Irrigators Ltd are likely joint-venture partners in the project that is tipped to be funded by a mix of ratepayer, irrigator and Crown funding.
WIN was established so that the public would have another per- spective on the dam project, Dawson said.
The members of WIN were concerned about a range of issues including the economics of the project and the effect on rates, he said. Dawson himself has long argued there is no need for additional water.
There was also concern that due process had not been followed by the council, he said. By way of an example, Dawson said the council was required to provide accurate information in documents for public consultation. However, TDC planned to next week release a Statement of Proposal for public consultation on the Lee Valley project without a final cost for the construction of the dam.
Council chief executive Lindsay McKenzie confirmed the Statement of Proposal would be on the agenda for a full council meeting scheduled for Thursday and it would include an estimate only of the dam construction cost.
However, estimated costs were usual practice for council capital works programmes.
‘‘They are all budgets, estimates,’’ McKenzie said.
WIN’s planned series of public meetings is due to begin on October 30 at Richmond, followed by a gathering in the Brightwater Public Hall on October 31 and at Motueka High School on November 1.
Two meetings are planned for Golden Bay on November 2 – the first in the church hall at Collingwood from 2pm, followed by a gathering in the Senior Citizens hall at Takaka from 7pm. all
Dawson said he was due to speak at the meetings about water issues. Other scheduled speakers included businessman Paul MacLennan on alternatives to the Lee Valley dam; former mayoral candidate Maxwell Clark on ‘‘opportunities’’; and farm management consultant and registered valuer Brian Halstead on the proposed dam being a ‘‘poor investment’’ for irrigators and ratepayers.
Former Treasury economist Peter Fraser was also due to speak at the Richmond and Brightwater meetings, Dawson said.
Fraser has been outspoken about the proposed dam, saying his calculations showed the water would be too expensive for many irrigators. He also said ratepayers were ‘‘getting fleeced’’ under the draft funding model.
Dawson said long-time former Nelson city councillor Seddon Marshall was due to be chairman for the meetings.