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Dam project satisfies water uptake terms

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 27/04/2016

The controversial Ruataniwha dam is another step closer to being built after enough Hawke's Bay landowners signed up to take water from the scheme.

The company behind the water storage scheme - Hawke's Bay Regional Investment Company Ltd - announced it has 196 water user agreements signed or confirmed as of Wednesday.

The total water contracted is in excess of what was required to proceed to the next step.

Immigration NZ chief executive Andrew Curtis says the announcement is excellent news for Hawke's Bay and will reinvigorate shrinking communities in the region.

"This result shows farmer backing is strong for the project," Mr Curtis said.

"This is not surprising given the Ruataniwha Plain's current and future susceptibility to drought."

Livestock and arable farmers are expected to be the biggest users of the land created by the project, which will now attempt to lift its water contract number and confirm investors for the construction phase.

The estimated cost of the contentious water storage project has ballooned to more than $900 million

The dam has come under fire from Forest & Bird who is currently appealing a High Court decision that allowed the Department of Conservation to unwind environmental protection on land in Hawke's Bay.

Undoing that protection helps paves the way for the dam's construction.

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