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Landowners invited to discover potential from Northland water storage project

13 Feb 2020, 1:31 PM

Northland Regional Council is encouraging landowners and those in the primary sector to explore ways their land could be transformed with access to a reliable source of water.

The Northland Regional Council is looking at options for potential major water storage projects in Kaipara and the Mid-North, funded by the Provincial Growth Fund.

Public information sessions to be held this month will see experts from the project discuss opportunities that exist within the horticulture sector.

The sessions will be held at Sportsville Dargaville from 10am to 2pm on Tuesday 18 February and Ōhaeawai Rugby Club from 10am to 2pm on Wednesday 19 February.

The areas that could potentially be suitable for development are broadly in the south of Dargaville and an area surrounding Kaikohe, Ōhaeawai and Waimate North in the Mid North.

The project will see a series of small-scale reservoirs be built in the mid-North and Kaipara districts that would collect and store water in times of plenty and then be able to deliver it through a network of pipes when needed for municipal and productive use.

Local horticulturalists believe the public information sessions could be a transformational experience for some landowners.

“Access to water is currently a major limiting factor for many Northland communities and we are seeing the effects of water shortages across the region right now.”

Without access to a reliable source of water, your options for farming or growing are pretty limited really but once people see what’s possible when water is available, I think they’ll be quite inspired,” Carl Muller says.

“A hectare of land in sustainable horticulture can return significantly more than one supporting pastoral farming. You can bring positive change to entire communities by giving people the opportunity to do more with their land,” he says.

Oturei farmer Dennis Te Tuhi currently runs a 40 hectare sheep and beef farm south of Dargaville. He is attending the Dargaville open day and is keen to learn more about the scheme and what it could mean for the region.

“We have good soils for horticulture but as we’re finding out right now, we’re vulnerable to mother nature if it doesn’t rain.”

“This water storage scheme would mean I could get better value out of my land and have confidence that any investment made to develop it would not be wasted because we could manage the drought risk.”  “It would mean we could employ a lot more people too so the effects flow through the community,” says Mr Te Tuhi.

While primarily designed to support horticulture, the scheme would also be available to assist existing municipal water supplies and greatly reduce the exposure to domestic water restrictions such as those in place in parts of Northland at present. Any potential project must also provide positive environmental benefits.