Opuha project wins supreme enviromental award
30th Oct 08, 8:30am
Ten years after legal battles following the collapse of the Opuha Dam, the environmental benefits of the project have been recognised. Yesterday, the dam gained the Supreme Canterbury Resource Management Award, which was presented by Environment Canterbury. The dam irrigates large areas of South Canterbury, generates electricity and maintains summer and spawning flows in the Opuha and Opihi rivers. The awards are administered by Ecan, which ironically was the regional council to push for prosecutions after the dam was breached during construction. The panel of judges said the project contributed to sustainable resource management and helped the community's social and economic well-being. The Timaru Herald reported that dam pioneer and former Sth Canterbury Farmers' Irrigation Society chair Tom Henderson said both the farmers in the scheme and environmental groups had learnt a lot over 10 years. In the past there had been concerns about the environmental effects of the dam, but now benefits could be proven. Fish and Game had recognised the improvement in angling brought about the scheme. Mr Henderson said research proved the economic benefits. "They proved that we consistently improved the economy by a minimum of $120 million. That was two years ago, in today's terms it could be $140 million." He said the scheme had created close to 600 full-time jobs.