Let’s assume that the dam will not proceed. Where too next? That’s the big question.
Plan Change 6 will still go ahead. It will likely mean that those land owners who currently irrigate will need to change their farming practices so that the Tukituki can meet its minimum flow requirements. No doubt there will be some pain in doing this but over allocation was one of the root causes of the degradation of the Tukituki in the first place.
Nearly every farmer in the Tukituki catchment will need to prepare a farm management plan to obtain land use consent. Again, this will mean a change in farming practices for a large number of farmers. For some farmers there will be no change in how they operate.
It is these farmers, who are already using best practices in sustainability, who we need to use as an example of how the future of agriculture will look in Hawke’s Bay. The word is spread how it has always spread. By use of tools such as demonstration farms and field days. And that’s where the Regional Council comes in.
A transition to sustainable farming practices will not be easy, nor cheep. Changing culture never is. But the Regional Council can help. Resources need to be put into promoting demonstration farms, helping develop wetlands, assisting with planting of riparian strips, maybe even setting aside marginal land.
As an urban ratepayer I’m happy for the Regional Council to invest in cleaning up our water for future generations. It’s a price I’m prepared to pay as it creates a social benefit for all. Clean water. And the best thing is the expenditure will benefit the whole region as it can be rolled out over all of Hawke’s Bay, not just a select area in Central Hawke’s Bay.