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