Waimakariri Irrigation (WIL) has lodged a resource consent
application to build water storage ponds on land it owns on
Wrights Rd, near Oxford, but opponents have vowed to keep
fighting the scheme because they fear a dam could break.
General manager Brent Walton said WIL, which originally
lodged a consent in July last year and has since been issued
with a building consent, has re-launched its application for
land-use and resource consents.
The re-launched bid allowed for population growth and
provided more information on how the dam was likely to
perform in a major earthquake. The proposed dam and two
storage ponds were designed to hold 8.2 million cubic litres
of water, which would allow shareholders to irrigate when
there were river restrictions.
Mr Walton said the severe dry conditions experienced during
the past summer highlighted the need for the storage ponds to
offer surety of water supply.
''This means farmers will be less likely to struggle through
extended drought-like conditions and opens up opportunities
to secure long-term contracts, especially with seed
companies,'' Mr Walton said.
However, Eyre Community Environmental Safety Society (ECESS)
spokeswoman Catherine Ballinger said while the society was
not opposed to water storage, it would oppose the land-use
consent due to the perceived risk the dam would pose to
public safety and property. Information received from
insurance companies indicated residents could face premium
rises of 50% or ''have policies altered to impose a total
''Would anyone like to have to face the imposition of not
only the very real risk to themselves and family, but also to
their property investments, stock and in many cases their
''If Waimakariri Irrigation Ltd wants to supply water to
their shareholders, then it could be done safely by storing
the water in-ground.''
She cited the performance of an earth dam near Seddon, in the
recent Cook Strait earthquakes. Media reports indicated the
dam's owner, Richard Bell, expressed concerns over the dam's
''structural integrity'' but it was cleared by Marlborough
District Council. Mr Walton said the Seddon dam did not fail.
''Our opponents were quick to jump on that one, but it hasn't
failed and it hasn't breached. There was no dam break
outflow. It suffered damage, an emergency condition developed
and the reservoir was drawn down in a managed way.''
He said the WIL dam's design was in accordance with NZSOLD
(New Zealand Society on Large Dams) guidelines.
''Having been issued with the building consent, that
addressed the same issues and it was rigorously reviewed. We
feel we are on the right track.''
Mr Walton said seismic testing was completed as part of the
design process to determine how the structure might behave in
an earthquake. He acknowledged this was based on fault lines
found in the vicinity of the Wrights Rd site and not based on
the ''peak ground acceleration'' generated by the February
2011 quake in Christchurch.
However, Ms Ballinger said the WIL dam seismic report failed
to allow for any undiscovered fault lines, seismic activity
in the Main Divide or any activity from nearby Burnt Hill.
''Remember the Greendale fault was previously uncharted. The
area in which the dam is proposed to be in is in a
multi-fault-line zone. Many of the faults in this area are
not charted. Ms Ballinger said rather than investing more
money in shares, local farmers should invest in their own
''Government funding is there for those who want to make use
of it for irrigation. We encourage those farmers needing
water surety to make some inquiries about putting in their
own water storage.''
- David Hill.