Benefits, what Benefits? – Letter to editor HB Today

Sir
It is disappointing that in response to a critical opinion piece by Mark Story, Andrew Newman has done nothing but essentially repeat the findings of that most outrageous piece of propaganda Tukituki Choices. A a public servant I would have thought it was Mr Newman’s role to put options to our elected councillors for decision and not try to justify his folly by expressing his personal preferences in opinion pieces (Monday Write In 3/12/12). Mark Story in fact raised an interesting point which Mr Newman did not attempt to answer “this proposal is angled at shoring up farming practices that caused the shortage in the first place”. If the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result each time, then surly the Ruataniwhia Water storage scheme is insane?
I have my doubts about the dam scheme and Mr Newman’s opinion piece does nothing to allay these. How can the dam save us from drought when it only irrigates 2% of our land area? When HBRC borrows the money from the BNZ to pay their share what security other than the Port has HBRC got to offer? Who will control our water if HBRC is only expected to be a 25% shareholder? Why is this process being handled as such haste and in such an undemocratic manner? Why is the process being transferred into HBRIC and away from public scrutiny? If the problem with the Tukituki now is being caused by excess nitrogen and/or phosphorus why propose allowing nitrogen levels to increase? How many farmers are willing to buy into the scheme? Why aren’t the ratepayers getting an opportunity to have a referendum on this, the single largest infrastructure project the Hawkes Bay has ever seen?
The further I have dug into the proposed Ruataniwhia Water storage scheme the more concerned I become. As it stands I do not believe it will be the solution to water quality in Tukituki River, nor the economic salvation it is purported to be. There are other alternatives and the sooner we wean ourselves of being reliant on intensive agriculture the better off we, and the environment will be.
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