Northland water storage a start but more investment needed - Irrigation NZ

An injection of $37.5 million was announced on Thursday.
An injection of $37.5 million was announced on Thursday. Photo credit: File / Getty

Although Government funding for water storage in Northland is "much needed", there are plenty more parched regions desperately awaiting investment, according to Irrigation New Zealand.

An injection of $37.5 million was announced on Thursday, with construction of a water storage site in Ngawha on the cards to begin in September.

It is aimed at accelerating and expanding the delivery of the Northland water storage project and is part of the Government's COVID-19 response.

The funding, from the Provincial Growth Fund (PGF), comes as many parts of the country have faced increasingly dry conditions over the past months.

Elizabeth Soal, chief executive of IrrigationNZ says water storage in Northland is "much needed", but says there needs to be the same prioritisation in other dry regions around the country, such as Hawke's Bay.

"It is very encouraging to see the Government recognise the importance of water storage," Soal said on Friday. 

"I hope we see further investment in this area through the ‘shovel-ready’, infrastructure upgrade, and PGF allocations."

Farmers in Hawke's Bay have faced a crippling drought in recent months, with bare paddocks stretching them to the limit and forcing them to make agonising decisions about what to do with their stock.

Soal said similar investment where it was needed could lead to "shared benefits for iwi, the environment, the community, and the farmer."

"Having reliable access to water enhances communities’ resilience, climate change responsiveness, social outcomes, and unlocks the potential for land use flexibility contributing to our zero-carbon targets."

Last month, Soal said not allocating more funding for water storage in the Budget was a "missed opportunity" by the Government.