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Regional water security programme

The 2020 drought in Hawke’s Bay highlights the importance of our regional water security programme. We’re aiming to make sure Hawke’s Bay has long-term, climate-resilient and secure supplies of freshwater for all.

What is the regional water security programme?

Water security and its effective management is one of the most significant challenges facing the Hawke’s Bay’s economy, community and natural environment. It is also a fundamental concern to tāngata whenua and their cultural values.

In 2020, the Government’s Provincial Growth Fund (PGF) allocated $30.6 million for a package of four freshwater security initiatives for project development and construction activity, co-funded and led by Hawke’s Bay Regional Council.

The initiatives are supported by the Hastings District, Wairoa District, Central Hawke’s Bay District and Napier City Councils. We will continue to work with these Councils, local iwi and the wider community to advance these projects.

regional water security programme diagram

What are the four water security projects?

Four water security initiatives have been identified as a priority for Hawke’s Bay.

These are the 3D Aquifer Mapping Project and a whole-of-region freshwater assessment which are underway, and investigations into a Heretaunga flow maintenance/ water storage initiative and a Central Hawke’s Bay water security initiative. 

The focus is on thoroughly investigating our region’s freshwater resources, including our demands on them well into a future challenged by climate change. We will also look at how groundwater systems can be supplemented during periods of high water flows and small-scale water storage designed to offer environmental protections during dry periods.

There’s more information about each project in the links below.

An aerial electromagnetic survey of Hawke’s Bay’s aquifers was done in early 2020. The data has since been analysed to provide a high-resolution, comprehensive picture of the region’s major aquifers down to 300 metres below ground - further than has ever been seen before. We will have better understanding on the size of our aquifers, how much water is in them, how they are connected to the land and where they might be vulnerable to contamination.

There’s more information about the 3D aquifer mapping project here

A detailed assessment is being produced looking at Hawke’s Bay’s freshwater demand and supply requirements to 2050.

It will identify regional investment priorities that promote water use conservation and efficiency in step with increasing security of supply. The demand-supply profile will be informed by the latest climate change predictions.

The report will consider the freshwater requirements of tangata whenua and provide engagement opportunities for the Hawke’s Bay community to contribute to long-term freshwater management planning.

freshwater demand and supply

We will be investigating water storage options to supplement water flows in and across the Heretaunga Plains.

This will mean a greater security of supply to current consent holders.  It will also mitigate the environmental effects of ground and surface water extraction through the release of water during dry conditions.

We are at the very first steps in these investigations, firstly carrying out the options analysis, then pre feasibility followed by full feasibility studies.

Any commercial ownership and operation structure won’t be known until we have a validated solution or set of solutions.

The Hawke’s Bay Regional Council has allocated $5m to the regional water security programme through its current Long Term Plan, and PFG has effectively matched that funding for the development and analysis of solutions. PGF has also earmarked further non-grant funding for the actual building of solutions that survive full-feasibility.

Ratepayers and the public will be informed and consulted on the plans.

You can read our media release here

The Regional Council has directed staff to increase the pace and effort of its water storage investigations in Central Hawke's Bay, and Councillors are proactively supporting staff and working with the community in this effort.

We will be investigating water storage options to carry winter water surpluses through to periods of summer deficit when it is needed most.

These are:

  • Above ground storage (such as dams) identifying options for smaller scale options
  • Below ground storage to replenish the aquifer system (i.e. Managed Aquifer Recharge - MAR). We are investigating a pilot study to determine the viability (or not) of  MAR. The reason for the pilot is to determine whether MAR is in or out as a potential solution for the community to consider.
  • Combination of above and below ground storage.

We are in the early stages of these investigations, firstly carrying out an options analysis, then pre-feasibility followed by full feasibility studies.

Any commercial ownership and operation structures won’t be known until we have a validated solution or set of solutions.

Hawke’s Bay Regional Council has allocated $5m to the regional water security programme through its 2018-28 Long Term Plan. The Government's Provincial Growth Fund has effectively matched that funding for the development and analysis of solutions. The PGF has also earmarked further non-grant funding for the actual building of solutions that survive full-feasibility.

Ratepayers and the public will be kept informed and consulted on the plans.

Low Flight Drought9 120313reduced jpg"Fresh water is Hawke’s Bay’s most precious and valuable resource. There is nothing else that plays such a critically important role to the social, economic and environmental future of our region.

The ultimate wellbeing of our communities and our people depends on how we manage our freshwater resources.”

Rex Graham, Chair - Hawke’s Bay Regional Council

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