Fate of Tasman's polarising 53-metre high Waimea Dam to be decided today

The fate of the Waimea Dam, which has polarised the Tasman region, is set to be decided at a council meeting today.

Opponents and supporters of the Waimea Dam clashed in a protest over its future. Source: 1 NEWS

The proposed 53-metre high dam would be built in the Lee Valley in Tasman and is the council’s preferred option to secure the supply and quality of water from the Waimea River and its associated aquifers.

The project is currently costed at $102 million. Earlier this month it was revealed that estimates had increased by $26 million dollars, leaving Tasman District Council scrambling to find ways to make up the shortfall.

Hundreds of people massed outside the Tasman District Council in Richmond, near Nelson, to protest today. Source: 1 NEWS

Today councillors must decide between two options.

One is to proceed with the dam and fund the council’s share of the increased project cost.  

The alternative is to not to proceed with the dam and start work towards finding other affordable solutions that meet the region’s water needs.

Final pleas were made to council this morning by members of the public from both sides.

Speaking on behalf of businesses, Nelson Pine Industries technical manager Phillip Wilson warned councillors choosing the ‘No Dam’ option would “cause regular and expensive disruption to industrial and commercial operations”.

“The no dam decision will mean every man and woman for themselves”.

Murray Dawson, from Tasman ratepayer group Waimea Information Network, called for an external review of the council’s management of water resources.

“Modern techniques may well give a much more optimistic view of how much water is available for us. There is the potential for the water ‘crisis’ to no longer exist,” he said.