The Waimea Community Dam is forging ahead.
The controversial project, which received the green light from the council last November, is making progress, hitting a big milestone this week.
Waimea Water Ltd, which is a joint venture between Waimea Irrigators Ltd and the Tasman District Council, oversees the construction of the Dam, and CEO Mike Scott says that while there are risks on the horizon, everything is on track at the moment.
While the $104.4 million project is currently two months behind schedule due to fire risk earlier this year, Mike says that nothing has taken them above budget yet.
“We are looking at everything we can to catch those two moths up.”
The risk for going above budget is certainly there though.
“It is very early days, and we need a lot to go our way to be on budget. There are some big risks on the horizon that need to be managed carefully, mainly around the geology and topography.”
Mike says that they’ll have a much better idea of costs towards the middle of next year.
A big milestone was reached this week, when concrete pouring began on the culvert for the dam.
The culvert, a large 8 by 6-metre pipe, which will be 165 metres in length, will be used to divert the Lee Valley river while the dam is built above it.
“It’s a key part of the dam,” Mike says.
One particular risk that members of the community have been concerned about recently is the geology of the site, with questions asked about a lack of quality rock to build the Dam on. However, Mike says that those concerns are unwarranted for the moment.
“The rock is better in places than expected. It’s early days, but we are building on good quality rock.”
Mike says there is no indication that the Dam will have to be moved upriver if the rock isn’t right.
“This is exactly where the Dam should be. Everything we’ve found is as expected. The health warning is that when we did exploratory work, everything we looked at was a steep forest. As with any project, there is a great element of uncertainty around the exploration work.”
But Mike says there is no more uncertainty now than there was when they began the work, but that they will be in a better position to understand risks and costs mid-way through 2020.
“The reality with construction projects is that you often don’t know the final costs until near or even after completion.”