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Regional water security programme

The 2020 drought in Hawke’s Bay highlights how critical it is to have a plan for regional water security. We’re aiming to make sure Hawke’s Bay has long-term, climate-resilient and secure supplies of freshwater for all.

Why is freshwater important?

We need freshwater to grow our food, maintain the integrity of our natural environment, for recreation, households and businesses.

Hawke’s Bay’s prosperity and success depends on fertile soils, a warm climate, abundant sunshine and freshwater.

However, our freshwater is coming under increasing pressure. As a region we want more and more of it, yet the more we take the greater the cost to our streams, waterways, rivers and the wildlife that lives in and around our waterways.

Ultimately, we all need freshwater to survive, but it is a finite resource that we must treat and manage with the utmost respect, and share equitably, if we are to sustain our region’s wellbeing.

We need to better understand Hawke’s Bay’s freshwater resources and make decisions as a community on how we protect and manage it.

What is the regional water security programme?

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 are working with local iwi, councils, and the wider community to advance these projects.

What are the projects?

A whole-of-region freshwater assessment is underway, and investigations into Heretaunga water storage and managed aquifer recharge in Central Hawke’s Bay.

We are thoroughly investigating our region’s freshwater resources, including our demands on water supply in to a future challenged by climate change.

We are looking 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.

Groundwater explained


Introducing the Regional Water Assessment
into to RWAv5 Page 1

How an aquifer works


Hawke’s Bay has never before completed a top-to-bottom assessment of all of its freshwater – how much it has, how it is used, who benefits from it, future demand and our ability to deliver secure supplies in the future.

The assessment will for the first time, provide a comprehensive analysis of our freshwater, including the growing gap between how much we want and how much we have.

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.

It will look at the range of options to ensure secure supplies including water storage, water conservation, more efficient water use and land use practices.

The assessment will be complete and made public in August this year.

The Provincial Development Unit has allocated $5 million to the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council to accelerate investigations into a water storage development in the Heretaunga region for environmental, productive and municipal purposes. 

The funding includes $1.3 million for a feasibility study on developing a lowland stream flow maintenance scheme using above-ground water storage. If the study confirms the project’s viability, the PDU will provide a further $3.7m of loan funding to help pay for the construction of new water storage infrastructure. 

Initially the project will focus on expansion of an existing water storage scheme on private land at Te Tua Station directly above Bridge Pa.

We have heard the the concerns of the Bridge Pa community in particular. Any investment in securing water storage to support our environment, either through expanding the Te Tua facility or developing new storage facilities, is proposed to be paid for by the users of water in the catchment.

You can read our media release here

Here is footage of the Te Tua water storage facility

What is it?

Aquifers are recharged every day from rainfall, rivers, unlined water races and canals, and irrigation activities. These processes lead to increases in groundwater levels and act to influence the quality of water in the aquifer.

MAR is a set of physical tools that enables us to capture high-quality water from rivers and streams during high winter flows and use it to purposefully recharge aquifers, complementing the natural recharge processes

How does it work?

We will run a pilot that involves capturing surface water from streams or rivers during winter high flow periods, settling and filtering that water and then recharging it into the aquifers below the Ruataniwha Plains.

Suitable sites for MAR tend to be in areas where thick, coarse-grained sedimentary deposits are crossed by waterways that can provide water to MAR sites during peak flows.

We will run a MAR pilot project in Central Hawke’s Bay this year to understand it more. We aim to select a pilot site that members of the community are able to visit and observe during operation.

Does MAR work?

Yes it can work well.

MAR is widely used in other parts of the world and is increasingly being trialled in New Zealand to support groundwater management – for example, in the Hekeao/Hinds catchment of Canterbury and in Gisborne.

TDA1609 Copy Copy"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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