Council confirmed on Friday, November 30, the Waimea Community Dam will be built, with councillors voting 9-5 in favour of the project.
The Tasman District Council (TDC) made its final decision to green light the controversial build.
They have stated it will be built to provide for the growing needs of the community, to safeguard the regional economy and to improve the health of the Waimea River.
Tasman mayor Richard Kempthorne says, “this project will deliver a secure source of water for our community for the next 100 years.
“It will greatly improve the health of the Waimea River, which can’t sustain the demands we are making of it, at the moment.
“The benefits of our region are immense and will be felt by everyone who chooses to make Tasman their home, for generations to come.”
Construction is due to begin in early 2019 and will be managed by the council-controlled organisation set up to run the project, Waimea Water Ltd.
Waimea Water is a joint venture between TDC and Waimea Irrigators Ltd.
Chris Choat, TDC community relations manager, says some key reasons for the decision to proceed were that the council cannot meet its obligations to provide an urban water supply to homes and businesses in the region without water storage on the scale that the dam will provide.
“Viable alternatives to the dam are more costly to ratepayers, they don’t provide the same security against droughts or provide for future increases in demand, and they don’t meet the council’s legal obligations on Freshwater Management or on Urban Development Capacity under the National Policy Statement.”
According to council, the dam is the only option that solves all the water-supply challenges facing the council and community in one piece of infrastructure.
For that reason it is the only option that attracts a significant amount of co-funding from other sources ($64 million in direct funding and $18.7 million in concessional loans) from irrigators, the Government and Nelson City Council.
A concrete-faced wall is to be built in the Upper Lee Valley forming the dam.
It will hold 13.4 million cubic metres of water and will store water from the upper reaches of the river.
The dam operator will be able to release water for river health.The total project cost will be $105.8 million and is to be funded by TDC, Waimea Irrigators Ltd, Crown Irrigation Investments Ltd, NCC and a Freshwater Improvement Fund Grant.