Nelson MP Nick Smith is praising the Tasman District Council for its decision to proceed with the Waimea Community Dam, after a lengthy meeting today which saw a 9-5 vote in favour.

“This is a hugely positive decision for the future of the Nelson and Tasman region. It means a cleaner and healthier river, enables growth of our key horticultural industry and secures household water for the huge growth in Richmond, Mapua, Brightwater and Nelson South.

“I congratulate the Mayor and Councillors for having the courage to make this major infrastructure decision for the region. The easier option would have been to ignore this long term problem and just keep kicking the can down the road. It would have been negligent for the Council to have voted no today as it would have lost over $40 million of Government funding support in grants and discounted loans. This funding from Crown Irrigation was particularly vulnerable as the new Government is cancelling the fund.

“We should not be at all surprised that this $100 million water project has been controversial as this is always the case with big infrastructure investments. Most water augmentation projects proposed around New Zealand in the past two decades have not proceeded because of funding, resource consents or politics. We are positioning ourselves with this project to be a national leader in sustainable water management with a stronger economy and cleaner environment.  

“The last hurdle now to complete is the passage of the Local Bill I am sponsoring to access the land. It passed its second reading on Wednesday by 112- 8 votes. I remain hopeful of having its third reading on Wednesday 12 December so it can be passed by Christmas enabling dam construction to begin in the New Year.”

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