Building a more secure water future for Tasman is the goal of all those gathered at the Waimea Community Dam Lee Valley site, for the project’s ground-breaking ceremony, on Friday last.

“Today is a very important milestone because we are recognising all the hard work that got us here,” said the CEO of Waimea Water Ltd, Mike Scott.

Waimea Water Ltd represents the shared interests of Tasman District Council and Waimea Irrigators Ltd to oversee and manage the Waimea Community Dam’s development, construction, and operation.

The digging for the new $104.4 million project started on Monday after it was approved last November by Tasman District councillors.

“The last few months we were working on the access roads, clearing the vegetation, getting the site ready and now we start work on constructing the dam,” Mike says. “It’s been over 10 years and this is a big project and a huge effort, and a lot of people had put a huge amount of work showing real leadership, vision, resilience and determination to make this happen.”

The Waimea Community Dam will be New Zealand’s first large one built in over 20 years.

It will be approximately 53 metres high, 220 metres long and 6 metres wide at the crest. At times, there will be more than a hundred people working on the project, many of them local.

“80 percent of the workforce is local, but aspects of the construction require some expertise from around the country and overseas,” Mike says.

The contractor to build the dam is a joint venture between Fulton Hogan and Taylors Contracting.

Quality engineer for Fulton Hogan and Taylors Contracting, Reece Moon, says he realises the importance of the work he is doing.

“It is an absolute necessity for the region, definitely it feels like doing something that is going to be important for the next hundred years.”

“I travel out here every day and it’s actually really good. It’s quite relaxing.

“The drive up here, there is the natural beauty of the place, it’s amazing. As you come up here, look at the water, it’s crystal clear, you pass a couple of good swiming holes,” he says.

Tasman Mayor Richard Kempthorne says this is one of the most important infrastructure projects that we are ever likely to see in the region and it’s certainly one of the largest.

“The dam is a game-changer for Nelson Tasman, it secures household water for our urban community and will grow our primary industries, as well as make sure a healthy level of water is maintained in the Lee and Waimea Rivers at all times.”

Construction is scheduled to be completed in 2021, with the total reservoir filling with water and it’s final commissioning expected to be in early 2022.

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