Hawke’s Bay Regional Council is focusing its accelerated Water Security Programme on trialling below ground Managed Aquifer Recharge technology in the absence of viable above ground options in Central Hawke’s Bay.

The Regional Council’s Corporate and Strategic committee today considered the report from the PGF Water Security workstream on possible above groundwater storage options for water security in CHB.

Regional Council Water Security Manager, Tom Skerman, says the analysis of options included some work reviewing the issues and options from a local perspective via the Tukituki Leaders Forum, but ultimately the work did not identify an above-ground storage option that is sufficiently viable to progress to development at this time.

“The Tukituki Leaders Forum considered this issue at length, with support from the Central Hawke’s Bay District Council. Having reviewed its findings, there are no immediately obvious legally or commercially viable options that warrant detailed technical investigation at this time,” he says.

“This process has confirmed what our investigations have told us for a long time now – that above groundwater storage options in CHB is incredibly challenging and we need to look at every other option to improve the region’s water security.

“At the same time, we will undertake further cost-benefit analysis of possible small to medium-scale storage sites before any final recommendations around storage in CHB.”

Mr Skerman says a comprehensive Regional Water Assessment has kicked off which will provide the region with the first comprehensive stock-take of the whole of Hawke’s Bay’s water resources, including supply and demand dynamics and means by which to improve security.

“There is no single bullet for Hawke’s Bay’s water challenges. Every possible option is now being considered, from below ground Managed Aquifer Recharge, to above-ground storage where it can work, to water conservation, alternative farming systems and land-use change,” he says.

Mr Skerman says the Regional Council is taking an integrated, holistic focus on what it can achieve to deliver better social and environmental outcomes for the whole of Hawke’s Bay through the way it manages water resources.

“We are progressing MAR studies in CHB and intend to conduct field trials early next year. Notwithstanding its successful use overseas, MAR is a relatively new approach in New Zealand. So the use of MAR must not only be technically viable but needs to have broad community support, and we will be testing both in the months ahead.

“We are making good progress on our water security programme and will be in a position to hold an informed conversation with all ratepayers from across Hawke’s Bay around possible options for development next year before decisions are made,” says Mr Skerman


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