Plans for water security for Northland are moving at pace, with the location of a new water storage site decided and a further $37.5 million investment, Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters and Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones have announced.
Construction on a water storage site in Ngawha could begin in September after months of technical assessment.
Both Ministers hoped work would begin earlier than initially announced in April if the project could be fast-tracked through new Resource Management Act provisions developed by Environment Minister David Parker following COVID-19.
“An earlier start to construction would mean more work sooner for contractors and businesses in the region at a time when Northland is suffering through the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic,” Mr Peters said.
“Bringing the start date forward by months would also mean an earlier finish date, and earlier access to a secure and reliable water supply for a region that has been hit hard by drought.”
Mr Jones said the additional funding of $37.5m from the Provincial Growth Fund (PGF) will be used to accelerate and expand the delivery of the Northland water storage programme as part of the Government’s COVID-19 response.
“We recognise the value of providing more upfront investment to get these projects moving ahead and lift regional productivity significantly in a much shorter time frame,” Mr Jones said.
“It also provides a visible vote of confidence in the Government’s intention to back its regions.”
In February, Mr Peters and Mr Jones announced up to $12.7m to make Northland more resilient in the face of extreme weather. They made the announcement in Dargaville, which along with large parts of Northland, has been in the grip of drought.
Mr Jones also announced in February up to $2m from the Provincial Growth Fund to set up temporary water supplies in Kaikohe and Kaitaia when water supplies ran critically low.
That funding came on top of up to $18.5m from the PGF to Northland Regional Council in 2018 to progress water storage projects.
Mr Peters and Mr Jones also welcomed the establishment of Te Tai Tokerau Water Trust which will oversee water storage requirements for Northland as a whole, taking in Kaipara, the mid-North and Far North.
The trust will pick up and take forward the work undertaken by the Northland Regional Council and the Northland Water Steering Group and Advisory Group.
The inaugural trustees are chairman Murray McCully and Dover Samuels. Additional trustees with expertise in infrastructure delivery and water storage, as well as trustees who represent potential water users, will be sought to join them.
Media contact: Zach Vickery: 021 867 951 (Winston Peters)
Lucy Bennett – 021 822 435 (Shane Jones)