Tasman District Council Waimea Dam — do we really need it?

Water Information Network Incorporated

The select committee is coming to town on 19 October. They will be at Richmond Community Church at 243 Queen Street.

We'd love to give them a warm welcome from 10am - come along and help us make their visit memorable!

"Two votes" Kempthorne hid in chambers on our last outing - will they?

And will we see the same dozen fluro-vested employees of irrigators turn out too? There is only one way to find out!

WIN has been formed to question the need for the Waimea Dam.

It's expensive, unnecessary and unfair.

  • Water Information Network — WIN — is a group of Tasman ratepayers who have serious concerns about the proposed Waimea Dam and question its necessity, science and cost.
  • WIN oppose ratepayer funding of the Dam as we cannot agree that a water augmentation scheme which principally benefits a small group of Waimea Plains irrigators has to be so heavily contributed to by all ratepayers of Tasman District Council (TDC) and New Zealand taxpayers.
  • The proposed $82.5 million price (whoops, blew through that one too! Insert your own number here - it's bound to be enormous) is hugely expensive and likely to blow out as there seems to be little control over what is spent on this project.
  • A council review of water supply alternatives looked deliberately inflated in order to make the Dam option seem the least expensive option.
  • It is apparent that TDC are publishing information that is not accurate and then ignoring corrections.
  • To publicise this, WIN has hosted a series of well attended public meetings and has had widespread support in attempts to circulate information contrary to that of TDC contracted PR consultants.
  • TDC carried out a second Public Consultation process in late 2017 and received huge opposition to the current Dam proposals.
  • WIN’s aim is to use this website to publish every unvarnished fact which the council neglects to tell us or misrepresents.
  • This will allow you, the ratepayer and voter, to make up your own mind about how millions of dollars of your money is proposed to be spent.
  • WIN believes that TDC does not command sufficient community support to continue with the Dam project.
  • Our goal is for the Dam project to be shelved pending more relevant, affordable and realistic solutions to water augmentation in the Waimea Plains.
  • At a public protest on 9 August, hundreds of us demonstrated while the Mayor hid in Chambers. Aired on national news media, it has become apparent that local impartiality is being threatened with notable silences from several local newspapers. 

If you are concerned about the Dam and how its cost will affect you, please talk to or email your councillor, whose details are at the bottom of the page here.

Who's Who on the Dam

CIIL — Crown Irrigators Investments Ltd — where the TDC guaranteed loans to WIL may come from.

CWS Advisory Group - members include a senior manager of a foreign owned corporation, the Director of a local survey firm, retired and active engineering consultancy employees. A special interest group that stands to collectively make millions from ratepayers if a dam goes ahead.

NCC — Nelson City Council — scheduled to contribute $5 million to the cost, despite cheaper options being available to supply users inside their boundary.

TDC — Tasman District Council — where your rates disappear. Just burst through the 300 employee mark.

WIL — Waimea Irrigators Ltd — the irrigators' company in which they buy water rights shares.

WWL — Waimea Water Ltd — the company jointly set up by TDC and WIL to build, own and operate the Dam.

WIN — Water Information Network Incorporated. That's us. Set up to provide you with the facts about the Waimea Dam.


The Waimea Dam is not needed.

Here’s why:


  • There is no need for more water Open or Close
    • Claims in support of the dam are based on an exaggerated future need for water. Current urban and industrial use is 12000 cubic metres/day. 30 year projected needs are 24000 (excluding Brightwater). Estimated water volume in the Waimea aquifers is estimated at 70 million cubic metres, with a minimum flow rate of 8.5 cubic metres/second. Current total pumpage from this is about .3 cubic metres/second - just 5% of the minimum flowrate. There are ample reserves for urban and industrial use today and for decades to come.
    • There is a case for more water security as an insurance policy against climate change for irrigators, but the answer is not an oversized Dam as their water requirement is only for low-rainfall periods in summer. Landowners may need to consider alternative land uses.
    • Irrigators and TDC are unclear if the Dam will provide water certainty in a once-in-40-year drought - essentially this ratepayer subsidised irrigator insurance scheme is a gamble. We pay for our insurance cover - WIL arguments that theirs should be paid for by ratepayers are disingenuous.
    • One thing is true — the water will not run out of the Dam and come out of your tap. It will continue to come out of boreholes and be piped through the reticulated system to your home, via the TDC filtration plant. The Dam merely adds another layer of expense for all ratepayers from Pakawau to south of the Shenandoah.
    • The charges for the dam have been worked out so that ratepayers only get 15% of the water (at most) but pay 51% of the costs (at least). This is completely unfair.
    • TDC has no responsibility whatsoever to provide businesses with raw materials, or subsidise them with ratepayers' money. Your money.

    If you are concerned about the Dam and how its cost will affect you, please talk to or email your councillor, whose details are here.

  • So there is no need for the Dam Open or Close
    • The science is incomplete. The idea behind the Dam is that released water soaks into groundwater aquifers at times when river flows will be already low. This water movement into aquifers is neither proven nor quantifiable.
    • The water released from the Dam will not come out of your tap. It will continue to come out of boreholes, just as it does at present. The Dam merely adds another layer of expense to your already high water bills and rates.
    • Most of the water released from the Dam — around 95% — will just run straight out to sea, according to data from the TDC.

    If you are concerned about the Dam and how its cost will affect you, please talk to or email your councillor, whose details are here

  • The Dam is far too expensive Open or Close
    • The 2015 estimated $82.5 million cost has now been looked at by the ECI(Early Contractual Involvement) partners Fulton Hogan and Taylors Contracting and found wanting. By a further $26 million or so. If the cost was prohibitive then, it is even more prohibitive now.
    • But not to worry, former TDC CEO Lindsay McKenzie told councillors "It's just another set of figures," (which attitude perhaps explains why Tasman is so indebted).
    • Despite TDC saying they have a 95% certainty of costs coming in on budget, the truth is that final costs are completely unpredictable.
    • Oxford University research shows that dams invariably cost far more than the budgeted figure. Of 245 dams studied, 4 were completed under or close to budget, and 4 were close to or more than a 1000% overrun. For a dam project the scale and complexity of the Waimea Dam the median overrun is 40%, and hence the P50 price is 1.4x the estimated cost. The P95 price for all dams studied is 4x the estimated cost.
    • If the Dam does increase to such sky-high limits, rates will increase accordingly because the irrigators' exposure to cost increase is limited only to a maximum of $3 million. Anything above that would come from the ratepayers. 
    • The above figures support WIN's view that on financial risk alone this Dam project should not proceed.

    If you are concerned about the Dam and how its cost will affect you, please talk to or email your councillor, whose details are here. (LINK)

  • The deal favours irrigators, some of whom are extremely wealthy, and will cause genuine hardship to the less well-off Open or Close
    • Without a doubt this will cause real difficulty for over-stretched families at their financial limits, pensioners and those on fixed-incomes.
    • Not all irrigators are in favour of the Dam, because it will be unaffordable for some. This includes a number of growers with a few hectares, and lifestylers, who say they can handle existing water restrictions and affiliating to the Dam would just add on huge extra costs. Even if they don't affiliate to get water rights shares, their rates have now increased and will continue to. 
    • Every ratepayer in the so-called 'Zone of Benefit' will pay significantly higher water rates.
    • And we are not starting off from a cheap rating base, Tasman is the second highest rated authority outside Auckland.
    • Nor are we unbelievably wealthy, either. The medial annual income in Tasman is only $25,700. Nationally it's $28,500.
    • So WIN asks: how can TDC favour the larger irrigators over the less well-off? Or, for that matter, any ratepayer?
    • Council's first duty is to its ratepayers. Have councillors honestly looked at the financial implications they will impose on us ratepayers?
    • The major beneficiaries of the Dam are those with large irrigation needs - it will be worth millions to them.

    If you are concerned about the Dam and how its cost will affect you, please talk to or email your councillor, whose details are at the bottom of the page or here.

  • The agreed share of costs is too disproportionate Open or Close
    • The proposed funding model is unfair. It would have ratepayers giving millions of dollars to subsidise irrigators.
    • Under the funding deal agreed with irrigators, they will pay only 49% of costs for at least 73%, and possibly as much as 83%, of the water.
    • Irrigators will need a $22.1 million loan. This comes at a cheaper interest rate because it will be guaranteed by the council, meaning us ratepayers. And if irrigators default, we pay up.
    • We don’t understand this at all. Because TDC have no obligation to provide irrigators with subsidised water.
    • And to date, nearly every irrigation project in New Zealand has been paid for wholly by irrigators, not ratepayers.

    If you are concerned about the Dam and how its cost will affect you, please talk to or email your councillor, whose details are here and at the bottom of the page.

  • Council’s financial management of the Dam is questionable Open or Close
    • No proper cost-benefit analysis has been undertaken independently.
    • Tasman District Council has debt of $122 million, along with a new demand of $22 million for district-wide water infrastructure, this makes the Dam costs unviable.
    • Damage from natural events last year caused massive damage - repairing a dam after a cyclone event will break the bank.
    • The recently quoted price from ECI partners Fulton Hogan and Taylors Contracting came in way higher than TDC and WIL hoped for. The response has been to shrug and continue their mantra "we need a dam", indicating they don't give a damn about the price and leaving them in a poor bargaining position when cost blowouts continue to appear.
    • TDC have spent around $10mllion so far, confident that they can force the Dam project through, despite ratepayer objections. The official number, $6.1m is artificially low and WIN believes forensic accounting would see this number more in line with reality.
    • Rates would increase by far more than the council say. The $29 per annum rated by the council could become $93 because the extra will come from council CCTO (council-controlled trading organisations) such as Port Nelson and Nelson Airport profits being diverted to pay for Dam loans, rather than being used to keep down rate increases.

    If you are concerned about the Dam and how its cost will affect you, please talk to or email your councillor, whose details are here and at the bottom of this page.

  • TDC project management capability has been shown to be very poor Open or Close
    • One example is Richmond’s Queen Street Upgrade. It was completed way behind schedule and grossly over budget. Originally $9.5 million, it became a staggering $14.78 million.
    • Now TDC admit their shortcomings, outside project management will be hired for the dam if it gets over the many remaining hurdles. But that isn't in the budget, so how much extra is that going to cost?

    If you are concerned about the Dam and how its cost will affect you, please talk to or email your councillor, whose details are here and at the bottom of the page.

  • The Dam’s location could be dangerous due to seismic activity Open or Close
    • The proposed Dam position carries a high seismic risk, particularly after the November 2017 earthquake. Several changes have been made to the design and it continues to be of concern.
    • The location is between two active faults: the Alpine and Waimea-Flaxmore.
    • Brightwater is particularly at risk in the event of a catastrophic rupture of the proposed dam.
    • At the junction of SH6 and Ellis Street, consulting engineer computer modelling forecasts a 2.5 metre high wave of water passing through.
    • Brightwater Primary School, with over 300 pupils, is at this junction and they will have a 20 minute warning to evacuate.
    • None of the potential effect on Brightwater, incidentally, is mentioned in the Waimea Irrigators Limited share prospectus (PDS). Does that tell you anything about the concern that irrigators have for the community?

    If you are concerned about the Dam and how its cost will affect you, please talk to or email your councillor, whose details are here and at the bottom of the page.

  • Many Dam engineering issues are expensive unknowns Open or Close
    • Tasman District Council (TDC) ad­mit they have never priced the clearing cost of the 87 hectare reser­voir. 
    • With steep, slop­ing and frac­tured ter­rain clearance of the area is likely to cost over $30 mil­lion.

    • Similarly, no costing has been made for the seal­ing of the lake bed to hold 13.4 mil­lion cu­bic me­tres of wa­ter.

    • Removed trees, bushes, shrubs, de­tri­tus, top­soil, and stumps will add up to a me­tre-high pile. 

    • This will amount to around one mil­lion cubic metres to shift from the Dam’s foot­print area to a stock­pile area where run-off can be man­aged un­til fi­nal dis­posal.

    • Silting up risks and decommissioning costs have not been taken properly into account.

    • Suitability of rock fill 'borrowed' for the Dam wall has not been accurately assessed. So it may not be suitable
    • The ECI partners, Fulton Hogan and Taylors Contracting have not submitted a fixed price for this project and were they to do so, the Dam price would be well above even their new costings which themselves made a mockery of the much-vaunted "P95" estimate.

    If you are concerned about the Dam and how its cost will affect you, please talk to or email your councillor, whose details are here and at the bottom of the page.

  • Some 'expert' reports are misleading Open or Close
    • The Kaikoura earthquake produced upthrusts of up to 5.5 metres. However, for the 2017 GNS seismology report, Tonkin & Taylor specifically did not ask them to deal with upthrust/vertical motion. WIN sees this as a questionable omission.
    • A number of the expert reports depended upon data supplied by TDC. This included preparing calculations using a new 1,100 litres per second flow at Appleby, when 800 litres per second was perfectly sound and still provided adequate conditions for trout, a DOC measurement of river health.
    • TDC Engineering Services Manager Richard Kirby produced a report in July 2017 stating that all alternatives to the Dam were more expensive. WIN thinks that view is exaggerated. Here’s one small example of that: one of their charts shows projected water demand reaching 100 years into the future. One line shows the demand 'with plumbing code' climbing up to a point. But a second line showing demand 'without plumbing code' climbs much higher. Is this an attempt to convince us of the need for the Dam? If so, it fails miserably because the second, higher line is needless due to the New Zealand Plumbing Code already being in operation for a number years. 

    If you are concerned about the Dam and how its cost will affect you, please talk to or email your councillor, whose details are here and at the bottom of the page.

  • The Dam may not contribute to economic growth Open or Close
    • Tasman District is growing economically, principally through housebuilding.
    • Agricultural hectarage as a whole on the Waimea Plain has seen dairy reduce dramatically. Pipfruit is static; hops and vines are increasing. Hops and vines require far less water than many other plants.
    • Principally, the Dam could only economically affect pipfruit, berry, viticulture and horticulture sectors. Even so, these units survive with their present water allocations because they either match their hectarages or are over-allocated.
    • Presumably then, any additional water would only be needed for previously non-irrigated land into which they would expand their businesses.
    • However, these would be commercial decisions, which are no responsibility of the council to support. So why is the council involved in the first place? We think it’s the power of the relatively few major irrigators. Many smallholders and lifestyle block owners don't want the dam because it's a comparatively major expense for them to affiliate at $5,850 a hectare.
    • For their scale, these hectarages actually employ relatively few full-time employees.
    • Many are foreign seasonal workers for whom the council has no responsibility. 

    If you are concerned about the Dam and how its cost will affect you, please talk to or email your councillor, whose details are here and at the bottom of the page.

  • Water conservation should be an important issue Open or Close
    • In just three days’ heavy rain in January this year, 1½ times the dam’s projected 13.4 million cubic metres fell across the whole Waimea Plain. How about irrigators saving some of that?
    • Irrigators waste a proportion of their water allocations and this should be stopped.
    • Water allocations should be re-evaluated.
    • Water conservation on the Waimea Plain should be encouraged, not ignored. We have been practising it already and with the proper support from Council, can be effective.
    • Conservation would be the cheapest and best option for all water users.
    • Council's first job should be to fix the leaks in the system and stop trying to convince us us that the main losses are "Non-Revenue Water", that include fire use, swimming pools.

    If you are concerned about the Dam and how its cost will affect you, please talk to or email your councillor, whose details are here and at the bottom of the page.

  • The Dam could become heavily foreign-invested Open or Close
    • WIL is the Waimea Irrigators Ltd company which has just launched its share prospectus (or Product Disclosure Statement — PDS). It is in partnership with Tasman District Council to build the dam. Shares are offered at $5,850 each and each share allows water consent holders to take 300 cubic metres of water per hectare per week. 
    • However, you don't need to be an irrigator to buy these shares. Any number of shares (up to 20% of the total) can be bought by anyone with the money, including foreign investors.
    • What makes this offer so attractive to any investor is that ratepayers will contribute throughout the life of the Dam.
    • Through council negotiation with irrigators, ratepayers further support them by guaranteeing up to $25 million in loans at a favourable rate.
    • WIL's PDS states a forecast of share increasing by 15% after launch and by a further 2% per annum.
    • WIN understands that foreign investors are already in discussion with, or about to invest in, major Waimea Plains growers.
    • It's bad enough that your hard-earned money is propping up irrigators, let alone potentially benefitting foreign investors.
    • Neither should have any claim whatsoever on your rates money, so why are TDC doing this? 
    • Over the life of the Dam it will mean millions and millions in subsidies from the rates.
    • It will be paid for by you, your children and maybe your grandchildren.

    If you are concerned about the Dam and how its cost will affect you, please talk to or email your councillor, whose details are here and at the bottom of the page.

Stop work on the Dam.


WIN maintains that sufficient doubt has been cast upon the information presented by the council, along with other information available, to suggest that the dam is not necessary and all work should cease immediately on it whilst cheaper (and no-cost to ratepayer) options are followed.

If water augmentation is necessary, and that is by no means proven, there are cheaper alternatives carrying less risk and these should be investigated seriously. The 2017 TDC investigation into alternative costs carries no credibility.

Any alternative must be accurately costed and paid for fairly.

There are other issues, too:

It is not council's job to subsidise businesses, so why should major growers with big irrigation needs get millions in subsidies, paid for by ratepayers?

Not all irrigators are in favour of the Dam. Many with smaller hectarages, as well as those with lifestyle blocks, are concerned that the high investment cost of nearly $6,000 per hectare could be financially crippling.

The less well-off will struggle to make rate payments or pay increased rent (which, of course, includes rates) as their rates go to subsidise some rich growers getting richer.

Every dollar paid by ratepayers for the dam is a dollar in subsidy to irrigators. This is wrong. 

All WIN asks for is a fair deal for the majority.

If you are concerned about the Dam and how its cost will affect you, please talk to or email your councillor, whose details are here.

An urgent message to the Mayor, Deputy-Mayor and all Councillors who voted in favour of the Dam on 2nd February.

Please read: 


Dear Mayor Kempthorne, Deputy-Mayor King, Councillors Brown, Bryant, Hawkes, Maling, Sangster and Tuffnell

At the 1st and 2nd February meetings you deliberated on the submissions given to Council at the hearings held before Christmas. All of you, to whom this message is addressed, voted in favour of the Dam project proceeding.

Since this vote was taken after the submission hearings, it was clearly taken with full awareness of the strength of opposition to the Dam amongst ratepayers throughout Tasman District. 

WIN estimates that some 85% of submitters spoke against the Dam.

The Agenda document prepared for you, ran to 36 pages and contained a number of worrying conclusions to persuade you that there is little choice but to continue voting in favour of the Dam. Here is some of the advice given to you:

“Council confirmed that …the proposed Waimea Community Dam … was the best solution for meeting the community’s need for good quality local water supply infrastructure …and notes that a number of matters raised by submitters could not be considered as part of the Special Consultative Procedure as they were outside the scope of the Statement of Proposal (SOP).”

First the statement is inaccurate. Strictly speaking, the Dam cannot provide 'good quality local water supply infrastructure' because it's up in the hills and not connected to any water supply 'infrastructure'.

Second, the science and measurement of recharging aquifers/groundwater via river flow is vague and unproven. Much of the recharge just soaks in via the land. So whilst it is the aquifers (rather than the Dam water) that actually connect with the real water supply infrastructure via boreholes, we don't know how much of that water supply can be attributed to the dam. All you can really be sure of is that of the Dam water released, 95% will go straight out to sea. Is that lack of precise knowledge worth $80-odd million?

Third, it seems that submissions were not 'outside the scope' of the SOP. This appears to be a misrepresentation of Section 82 of the Local Government Act 2002. Amongst other sections, 82(1)(c) states:

that persons who are invited or encouraged to present their views to the local authority should be given clear information by the local authority concerning the purpose of the consultation and the scope of the decisions to be taken following the consideration of views presented:

and perhaps in contravention of s.82(1)(e):

that the views presented to the local authority should be received by the local authority with an open mind and should be given by the local authority, in making a decision, due consideration:

Were you, Mr Mayor, displaying an open mind when you halted Councillors questioning submitters who were not in favour of the Dam? 

Fourth, this suggests that the decision to proceed was decided last July. So now, there does not need to be a ‘Dam or No Dam’ vote. Yet many of us ratepayers were under the impression that you, Mr Mayor, would organise a referendum on the Dam before committing to the project. Have you now reneged on that?

Councillors, you are being pressurised by council officials who use document after document to give you only the information that suits the argument in favour of a dam. This is not good enough. Information to you should be neutral and allow you to make up your own minds. The nature of this Agenda document is anything but neutral.

“…a discussion of the matters raised by Submitters outside of the scope of the SOP, but which can be used to help inform your decision making. They do not form part of the SOP decisions for this meeting.”

This means that all of us who asked for a vote on ‘Dam or No Dam’ are to be be ignored. As will all of those who criticised council’s procedures. So the weight of all those voices will count for nothing.

Is that what you want? Is that the platform you asked to be elected upon? Here is another comment:

“You would have noted … that there is a reasonable level of opposition to Council being a partner to the construction and costs of the proposed Dam. … In this respect you have a leadership role for the community, in that you are responsible, through direction to staff, for the … provision of services for current and future residents and ratepayers of the District. To this end, you have spent more time considering the need for water augmentation on the Waimea Plains, listened to, read, and considered more information on this project than the public could realistically be expected or asked to do.”

This attempts to tell you that Councillors are 'fully informed'. It tells you that you have no requirement to base your decision-making solely upon any information, other than that provided by council staff. This advice is written to persuade you that saying "Yes" to the Dam is now a defined duty, requiring no further consideration. It is not the function of council staff to tell you that. Now read this put-down:

“With modern technology, such as online submissions it is easier for the public to have input into Council decision-making processes. Easier access does however mean that it is also easier for public campaigns and negative submissions to be made …but for you to note that the consultation process is not a popularity vote, or that your decisions should be made based on the number of submitters who support or disagree with the proposal.”

This seems to presuppose that council officers' advice and subsequent council decisions are always right. It also begs the question why, during deliberations on submissions, no significant changes were made? Most importantly, it's wrong advice because you must listen to the will of the people. 

This quote also infers that online submissions are easier to compose, of lesser value and, without email, nobody would bother. All of which is untrue. All submitters who spoke against the Dam put time and thought into composing their submissions and for council staff to advise in this manner is outside their remit and insulting to submitters. As for you Councillors, the Mayor, Deputy-Mayor and CEO clearly think you are to be led by diktat, which is what this 'advice' amounts to.

WIN urges Councillors to be independent-minded and look beyond the selective information presented to you by council officers. Your first stop could be to see the information presented on this website. And then ask your voters if they want the huge expense of the Dam.

WIN advises caution to Councillors.

WIN cautions Councillors against pre-determined voting. This project is being railroaded through by the Mayor and Deputy-Mayor. If the Dam goes through without the backing of popular support, there is likely to be enormous resentment amongst the majority of ratepayers.

May we remind Councillors of the Meeting Agenda for 11th December 2014, at which the Chief Executive Officer, Lindsay MacKenzie, reported on the consultation regarding 'Funding and Governance'. At paragraph 4.23 he states:

"The proposed funding must be of an activity that the Council can undertake and you need to be satisfied you have a mandate."

So Councillors, do you have that mandate? The vast welter of submissions point to the answer being 'No'. 

So from now on, will you please vote “No” to the Dam.

Yours sincerely

Steve Olds

Chairman, WIN — Water Information Network Inc.

Councillors — Please listen to your ratepayers.

Vote 'No' to the Dam.

Readers — Make up your own mind. See the full TDC Agenda document at:

If you are concerned about the Dam and how its cost will affect you, please talk to or email your councillor, whose details are here.


Is there a viable alternative to the Dam?

Do we need water augmentation right now?


  • At the moment there is abundant water for urban and industrial users.
  • In 20 or 25 years demand may increase but the time to do anything about that is not now.
  • Check out the Fact Sheet pages of this website (currently under construction) to find out how much water is actually available. It’s a staggering total.
  • So come the future, weirs and reservoirs may be needed. Or the weather may change.
  • Whatever happens, let’s allow the weather (and thus the water) to dictate what crops can be grown on the Waimea Plain. Not let the crops dictate the weather. Or if housing development continues at the same pace, water requirement per hectare will be a fraction of what irrigators currently need.
  • The council tell you that doing nothing is not an option.
  • WIN says look at the facts. Doing nothing is one of the best options.
  • It doesn’t cost ratepayers anything and if irrigators are so keen on a dam, they can pay for it themselves.

If you are concerned about the Dam and how its cost will affect you, please talk to or email your councillor, whose details are here.

Frequently Asked Questions.

About the Waimea Dam.

  • What’s this Dam thing all about? Open or Close
    • Large irrigators say they need a water supply guaranteed free from drought for the future.
    • They have persuaded TDC that a dam is the answer.
    • The proposed dam would hold 13.4 million cubic metres of water at an estimated cost of $82.5million - whoops - where did that extra $26 million (and counting) come from?
    • Irrigators do not want to pay for all of the cost so have persuaded TDC that the cost should be shared.
    • NCC has voted to contribute and local MP Nick Smith chipped in from the previous Government for freshwater improvement.
  • Here’s the deal: Open or Close
    • Irrigators will use 82.3% of the water but only pay 49% of the build cost.
    • TDC urban/commercial use is 9.9% of the water but will pay 51% of the build cost.
    • NCC use 7.8% of the water and contribute up to $5 million.
    • The Waimea Dam would be only one of two irrigation projects in New Zealand that has irrigators not paying in full for their water.
    • If the Dam is built, TDC ratepayers will subsidise irrigators to the tune of at least $42 million plus annual operating expenses.
  • Who will benefit from the dam? Open or Close
    • TDC suggest that it will be the irrigators, urban water users, the river network and wildlife. But it won’t be.
    • This is because TDC have skewed the facts so much that the ratepayers have been given false benefits and will also pay an imaginary environmental cost.
    • Irrigators end up with hugely greater benefits, the cost of which is loaded onto ratepayers.
    • Every ratepayer in the district, from Murchison to Tapawera, from Takaka to Collingwood, will pay.
    • The council have no liability or obligation to pay for river flow. Nor to charge us ratepayers for it.
  • How will it be paid for? Open or Close
    • Irrigators anticipate $16.5 million from share purchase in WIL.
    • With TDC, they will form WWL, to own, build and operate the Dam.
    • WWL will be owned jointly by WIL (49%) and TDC (51%). It will be a ‘not for profit’ company.
    • TDC will put $41.32 million into the venture ($31.32 million plus an interest-free loan of $10 million).
    • WIL also requires a loan of $22.12 million from CIIL which will be guaranteed by TDC (i.e. us ratepayers).
    • The actual loan could climb to $25 million and together with other costs could amount to a total of $29 million, when insurance and other items are added in.
    • TDC say the profit from council-owned companies like Nelson Airport, Port Nelson and Nelmac will go to paying off the loan. But those profits are already pledged to keep rate increases down. You can’t spend the money twice, so it will have to be paid by ratepayers.
  • Can the council afford the Dam? Open or Close
    • No. They are about $122 million in debt at the moment.
    • They have borrowed $1 million (or more? It's difficult to pin down exactly how much) to pay for some of the preliminary works on the Dam.
    • The Dam will add another $36 million.
    • A further $22 million is also required to update water supplies across the district, not including proposals to update Motueka reticulation.
    • Plus all the clean-up costs from the recent cyclones Fehi and Gita...
    • Assuming this is all borrowed, the total debt owed by ratepayers will go up to $180 million.
  • What if costs blow out? Open or Close
    • Additional costs up to $3 million are shared equally between WIL and TDC ratepayers.
    • Any additional costs above that are to be paid by TDC ratepayers alone and not shared with WIL.
    • The P95 estimate as of 5 July 2018 appears to have been blown out. Watch this space.
  • I have to use my house as security for loans, why can’t the irrigators do the same? Why use TDC's ratepayer collateral to guarantee it? Open or Close
    • Good question; we think this would be illegal.
    • And what does it say about the wealthy irrigators of WIL who won’t back their own judgement?
  • Aren’t the council good at handling large projects to come in on budget? Open or Close
    • It seems not. TDC have run 35% over budget (so far) on Richmond’s Queen Street Upgrade.
    • Costs went from $9.9 million to $11.3 million. That’s a 14.4% increase. Now it’s up to $14.4 million. A further 27.4%.
    • They now admit they're not very good at this sort of thing and will appoint project managers to manage construction. But that hasn't yet been budgeted.
  • But this is a big Dam with a 95% expectation of coming in on budget. Surely their experts can contain the costs? Open or Close
    • No, again. It’s a problem with dam construction. An Oxford University study shows that, worldwide, Dams come in on average 96% over budget.
    • Therefore a 95% expectation of costs coming in on budget (the so-called ‘p95’) is very unlikely to happen.
    • TDC want the Dam so badly, they need ratepayers to believe this fairy story, then they’ll wring their hands when the costs double and blame everything and everyone but themselves.
  • Are there alternatives? Open or Close
    • There have to be, because there is no guarantee that water released by the dam will go into the aquifers and not just run out to sea.
    • Also, we do not need 13.4 million cubic metres of water storage. Less than half that would see us through any drought.
    • Bear in mind the water is only going to be released from the dam with the hope of some of it soaking through into groundwater (the aquifers).
    • Other options are covered in this website. For example:
      • Weirs were tried in the 1950s and they worked;
      • Reservoirs could also work, at a cost;
      • Or a water trading scheme;
      • Even doing nothing and waiting to see what the future really does hold is an option;
    • We do not need to spend $82.5 million (pick a number here, currently the guesstimate by TDC is @$108 million) a lot on one solution when several much cheaper alternatives can be pursued.
  • What if irrigators default? Open or Close
    • Because TDC ratepayers would guarantee the loan up to $25 million. If arrears occur, CIIL the lender will come straight back to TDC to demand the arrears.
    • If arrears become really large, CIIL can come back and demand the entire loan be repaid.
    • The very heart of the matter is that the irrigators have great influence with the council.
    • They do not wish to pay the full cost of augmenting their water supply and have persuaded TDC to contribute ratepayers’ money.
    • Which means that irrigators won’t pay their fair share., so you’ll pay it for them
  • Will ratepayers will pay 51% of costs for 9.9% of the water. That’s not fair! Open or Close
    • Through discussions over many years the solution to future water security challenges has become seen to be a dam.
    • The initial public consultation TDC conducted in 2014 was not to explain about water augmentation but to present funding models to pay for the dam.
    • This contained, and still contains to this day, a disproportionately high percentage of total costs being allocated to ratepayers.
    • Ratepayers complained that the recent consultation is the same
    • These have since been skewed again and again. They gain nothing for the ratepayer and everything for the irrigators to the extent that they will now get 82.4% of the water for just 49% of the cost.
  • The biggest irrigators are very wealthy. Can't they pay for their own irrigation? Open or Close
    • There are about 30 or so major beneficiaries of the dam’s $$millions. These include the wealthiest families across the Waimea Plain.
    • If you want to know why TDC are happy to have you subsidise them to the tune of millions of dollars, ask your councillor.
    • They don’t pay for your employers’ raw materials so they should not pay for irrigators’ water, their most basic raw material.
  • Irrigators won’t pay their fair share. So you’ll pay it for them Open or Close
    • The very heart of the matter is that the irrigators have great influence with the council.
    • They do not wish to pay the full cost of augmenting their water supply and have persuaded TDC to contribute ratepayers’ money.
  • Have the council actually decided to subsidise the irrigators? With our rates? Open or Close
    • Yes. They have mistakenly decided to support irrigators with your rates money.
    • They have no legal obligation to do this or to maintain the health of the river using flow augmentation. If you are unhappy about this, tell your councillor.
  • Do we have to pay? And how much? Open or Close
    • Yes, you will have to pay unless together we stop the dam.
    • Because TDC have said the cost will be funded via the rates.
    • They say only $29 per household across the district, but it will be more if you live close to the Waimea Plain. And if you live on the plain there will be an extra rate charge based on your property’s capital value.
    • And this will be on top of any rate increases to water rates or because your new rateable value has increased.
    • This won’t give you any extra or different or better water to what you get at the moment.
    • So your rates will just go up because of the dam.
  • But we’ll get our water from the dam. Surely that’s worthwhile? Open or Close
    • Not really. If you are on Richmond urban reticulated supply, the water you get will be exactly the same as you get now.
    • It will come from a borehole and be treated with Chlorine or UV.
    • You’ll just be paying more for the same. Around $2 for 1,000 litres.
    • Irrigators would pay about 6.8 cents for their 1,000 litres. Sweet deal!
  • The ‘Zone of Benefit’ — for whose benefit? Open or Close
    • An example is that the ‘Zone of Benefit’ has shifted from the true ‘Zone of Benefit’ to now include Richmond, including additional uphill land which cannot possibly benefit.
    • The dam will not add any water whatsoever for domestic users. It will only benefit the irrigators.
    • As such they should pay 100% for the augmentation scheme. If you agree with this, tell your councillor.
  • Isn't the place it's planned to go earthquake-prone? Open or Close
    • Yes. In a seismically active area, a dam should be a last choice.
  • Setting the rules to suit the dam Open or Close
    • The minimum flow rates and rationing triggers have been concocted by TDC in order to steer thinking towards a dam being the only answer to draconian water restrictions.
  • Irrigators waste water Open or Close
    • Irrigators have been the biggest wasters of water. If they had to pay the same as those on the reticulated scheme, this would not happen.
  • What about water conservation Open or Close
    • There has never been any water conservation in the Waimea Plain.
    • Since the 2001 drought TDC have had 17 years to implement conservation measures but not even a modicum of progress has been undertaken in this regard.
    • As an example, the rain falling on the Waimea Plain on three days between January 11th and 15th this year was enough to fill the dam 1½ times over.
    • Now why can’t some of that water be saved?
  • How much has been spent so far? Open or Close
    • Lots. The dam has been spend, spend, spend – July 2018 estimates put direct costs at $10 million but we just don't know, because the mayor "is not into that detail" either.
    • We believe it is substantially more than that but only forensic accounting scrutiny can tell us. A former councillor who was Chair of the TDC finance committee balked at signing off the 2016 accounts because of fudging.
    • A fundamental problem for TDC is that they have spent so much on preparation, they now feel committed.
    • They have shown no sign of acting conservatively or prudently on spending when it comes to the dam.
    • They have hired a PR firm, Etc. Communications, as ‘communications advisors’ to ‘sell’ the idea of the dam to the public.
    • Some of the PR firm employees have been housed in TDC owned offices right next to the council offices, so they are on hand full-time. Can you help us find them now?
  • So what are the choices? Open or Close
    • First, we need to step back from the brink and take a deep breath.
    • The water problem is only one that will occur once in 17 years or more.
    • Even then the water will only be a problem for at most, around six weeks.
    • If that happens, there will be restrictions but we can get by without too much discomfort.
    • Most importantly though, it means we can look at the real needs for water on the Waimea Plain for a reasonable period ahead.
    • Not silly numbers like 50 or 100 years, but sensible periods, like 20 years and 40 years.
  • What about the Mayor, the Deputy Mayor and Chief Executive? Open or Close
    • These gentlemen are gambling your money on this dam being the right choice for the future. It is not.
    • They have preferred a scheme offering multi-million dollar subsidies to irrigators at the expense of ratepayers.
    • This does not accord with their legal obligation to those who voted them in or pay their wages.
    • The financial record is poor. Under Mayor Kempthorne debt has soared. This has been criticized by central government, yet they show no concern to limit expenditure. Even with the $22 million cost to update district water supply, announced just before Christmas, they continue progressing the dam as if it will cost only a few bucks.
    • WIN believes that the Mayor and Deputy Mayor should consider their positions. The Chief Executive retired recently, giving a hospital pass to his replacement.
  • What happened at the protest? You! Open or Close

    Hundreds of you answered the call, and for that we are humbly grateful.

    The mayor would do well to note that God is on our side and even turned on some of the weather we are rightly famous for - not that he'd know as he kept safely inside so as not to hear the absolute racket that was being made against progressing the dam.

    A decision to continue with the dam was postponed to a meeting on 28 August - and recent activity suggests a real air of desperation by dam backers.

    Thank you to the speakers who eloquently made their points, and to you for turning out to hear them.

    On the day, Radio NZ and TV One ran news stories about the protest - with local champions of the free press, the Golden Bay Weekly having their usual field-day with the topic.

    Unfortunately, other local newspapers have been conspicuous in their silence -  astounding given the widely publicised and nationally newsworthy nature of the event and suggesting that if they have not been bought, they have been influenced.

  • No means NO. Open or Close

    Hang on a minute - Mayor Kempthorne wants a second vote. A day after the no vote last week a (surprise) new secret one is wanted.


Together we are succeeding.

Questions about the dam continue to be asked - and nobody for the dam can answer them.

There have been a number of council votes to get the Dam project to where it is today. But this doesn’t mean the Dam has to be built.

Since WIN was formed, we have fought to get information into the public domain and we are now at the stage where tender pricing has been submitted that is rumoured to be way above the estimates (no surprise), land access is having to be sought through a Local Bill (cue expensive legal advice) and elected councillors are having information withheld from them by TDC, whilst the Mayor using a casting vote to deny ratepayers a proper say in the most expensive project in TDC history.

This descent into farce is happening with ratepayer funds continuing to bleed - the next Council meeting is a chance for you to say "No more".

9am on 9 August at the Council Chambers in Richmond.

If you are convinced that the Dam is a bad idea, then tell the Mayor or your Councillor today and then. Here are their details. Make your voice heard!



Richard Kempthorne

Golden Bay — Collingwood, Pohara & Surrounds, Takaka

Councillor Sue Brown

Councillor Paul Sangster

Lakes/Murchison Ward — Murchison, St Arnaud, Tapawera

Councillor Stuart Bryant

Motueka Ward — Kaiteriteri, Marahau, Motueka, Riwaka.

Councillor Peter Canton

Councillor Paul Hawkes

Councillor David Ogilvie

Moutere-Waimea Ward — Brightwater, Coastal Tasman, Mapua/Ruby Bay, Tasman Village, Upper Moutere, Wakefield.

Deputy Mayor Tim King

 Councillor Dean McNamara

 Councillor Anne Turley

Richmond Ward

Councillor Mark Greening

Councillor Kit Maling

 Councillor Trevor Tuffnell

 Councillor Dana Wensley