Hawke’s Bay water plan will ‘dec­i­mate’ the in­dus­try

The Orchardist - - Water - By Rose Man­ner­ing

The WCO would re­strict and pro­hibit water taken from the Ngaruroro River, and 7km of the Clive River, to pro­tect and pre­serve its "out­stand­ing val­ues".

Trac­tors from Hast­ings, cars from Napier, and walk­ers from Awa­toto con­verged on the banks of the Clive River at Farn­don Park. With trac­tors, agri­cul­tural ma­chines, and plac­ards, hun­dreds turned out to show their sup­port.

Or­gan­iser of the rally and Twyford Ir­ri­ga­tor Group spokesman Jerf van Beek says the sight of trac­tors thun­der­ing to­ward the sea (Hawke’s Bay Show­grounds, Hast­ings, to Clive) did much to raise pub­lic aware­ness of the plight of grow­ers, and po­ten­tially the whole com­mu­nity of the threat posed by the Or­der(WCO).

Prior to the rally, most peo­ple in Hawke’s Bay “didn’t have a clue” about the Fish and Game-led ap­pli­ca­tion for the WCO. “We will con­tinue to ap­ply pres­sure, and in­form the com­mu­nity of the dam­age this can cause. We stake­hold­ers can make a dif­fer­ence,” Jerf says.

He was par­tic­u­larly thrilled with the turnout for the march, as both the Hawke’s Bay Fruit­grow­ers’ As­so­ci­a­tion and Wine­grow­ers Hawke’s Bay had re­ceived le­gal ad­vice not to par­tic­i­pate in the march.

The WCO would ef­fec­tively give the rivers Na­tional Park sta­tus. Speak­ing at the rally, Heinz Wat­tie agron­o­mist Bruce Mackay said the ap­pli­ca­tion in its cur­rent form would dec­i­mate pri­mary pro­duc­tion in Hawke’s Bay. Any time the river is flow­ing less than 70,986 litres/sec­ond (on the day of the rally it was flow­ing at 46,100 litres/sec­ond) the al­low­able take would be re­duced to just 1581 litres/sec. “That’s like drop­ping the speed limit from 100km/ hr to 3km/hr… its easy to see there is noth­ing left for grow­ers or in­dus­try once the sup­plies for peo­ple and ba­sic in­fra­struc­ture are de­ducted.”

It also seeks to re­strict any river chan­nel mod­i­fi­ca­tion which would have a big im­pact on gravel ex­trac­tion pro­grammes. “This is an in­te­gral part of the on­go­ing flood pro­tec­tion for this river, en­sur­ing the safety of our peo­ple and prop­er­ties.”

The WCO ap­pli­ca­tion pro­poses to in­crease the min­i­mum flow at Fern­hill from 2400 litres/sec to 4200 litres/sec. This would see the num­ber of days water use is banned triple to up to 30 days in a nor­mal year, and 90 days in a dry year. The bans would be­come much fur­ther reach­ing, as no longer would they only ap­ply to sur­face con­nected con­sents, they would ap­ply to ev­ery­body.

“I know if I were a grower I would never in­vest in plant­ing a crop, or de­vel­op­ing an or­chard or vine­yard if the prospect of no ir­ri­ga­tion water for

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