Hawea water shortage talks begin

Lake Hawea (Friday, October 13) Photo: Nikki Heath / Wanaka Sun

The Upper Clutha Farmers Group met with council representatives and Contact Energy last week (Friday, October 13) to discuss their low water level concerns in Hawea.

The group has expressed its water level worries for Lake Hawea’s dam and two Hawea bores and say that Contact Energy’s operating levels are to blame for the lowest water level since monitoring began.

Lake Hawea’s seasonal water cycle is controlled by Contact Energy to provide electricity supply when demand is at its peak, and the group’s farmers think that if the lake remains at a constant low level, it will have an effect on Hawea Flat’s bores.

A statement released by the group said that it is worried farmers will be blamed for low water levels and it wants the issue resolved before this season’s irrigation starts.

Otago Regional Council’s (ORC) director of engineering, hazards and science Dr Gavin Palmer said Contact Energy was complying with its resource consents.

He said that lake level was just one of four influences on groundwater levels in Hawea’s aquifers, including more efficient irrigation practices, the impact of new housing developments in the area on the recharge rate and rainfall.

“Shallow bores (ten metres) will always be vulnerable to changes in groundwater levels. That’s the case right across the region, it’s not just applicable to Hawea, and people are naturally concerned when their bores are affected,” Dr Palmer said.

He added that the ORC gets its information from four existing bores and will be drilling two new ones in Hawea before the end of the year.

Head of corporate communications at Contact Energy Shaun Jones said that Contact was always keen to talk to the community and that the company’s local team was looking forward to catching up with the group for a chat soon.

Pictured: Lake Hawea (Friday, October 13) Photo: Nikki Heath / Wanaka

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