Central Plains Water

Below is a letter to the editor, published in the Christchurch Press, in which I stated my views on the CPW scheme. Since that time, the Medical Officer of Health has publicly stated his concerns that the scheme might cause microbial contamination of the city’s drinking water (click here to download the Press article).

I believe there are too many intelligent, unanswered questions about the implications of the scheme for me to support it. I will not play Russian roulette with what is currently the cleanest drinking water of any city in the world.

Unfortunately, the last chance for the city council to halt the scheme was lost when the council including Bob Parker voted to extend the loan approval to the scheme earlier this year. The power of decision making has now effectively moved to other bodies.

In the past, some 2021 city councillors have voted in favour of the scheme. At that time, however, the scheme’s purpose was to support high-value horticulture on the Canterbury plains. Intensive, corporate dairying, with associated effluent production, was not envisaged.

I am not against irrigation as such. It may be vital to the future of Canterbury as we face the challenges of climate change. I am, however, against an irrigation scheme which might threaten the superb quality of Christchurch’s drinking water.

Letter to the Editor of the Press:

On the information that I have been privy to, I would have voted against the motion that allowed the CPW scheme to proceed. There are too many unanswered intelligent questions. Water is the “new gold” for any 21st century city. We must protect this precious resource. We must not literally sell our children’s futures down the river. For me, there is too much uncertainty around the effects on Christchurch groundwater pressure and too much uncertainty over the economic benefit case.

I also have concerns over the “behind closed doors” nature of much of the process. There needs to have been greater transparency, and better consultation with the community and affected farmers in the Wainiwaniwa Valley.

Advice I have received is that it is unlikely that the loan approval could be reversed. However, I would like to lead a council that provided no further financial support to the Trust.

Megan Woods
Christchurch 2021 Mayoral Candidate