"Every region should be looking at storing rain water and many currently are. This report should hasten that work"

"Every region should be looking at storing rain water and many currently are. This report should hasten that work"
Opuha Dam, South Canterbury

Content supplied by Federated Farmers

The logic for water storage is irrefutable with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) predicting New Zealand could face a future climate of heavier extreme rainfall, stronger and more extreme winter winds as well as longer periods of drought.

“Whatever ones’ views on the causes of climate change, climate change is a constant on our living dynamic planet,” says Dr William Rolleston, Federated Farmers spokesperson on climate change."

“There are three basics to growing pasture and crops and they are soils, sunlight and water.  While many countries have the first two, it is water, or the lack of it, which limits food production in a world where the supply and demand for food sits on a knife edge."

“Aside from being a net food exporter in a world of increasing food shortage, New Zealanders can be very proud that our farmers are among the most carbon efficient in the world.  This extends to our country’s role in the Global Research Alliance on agricultural greenhouse gases and the Palmerston North based Pastoral Greenhouse Gas Research Consortium."

“This efficiency saw the Daily Mail last year write, "Buy New Zealand lamb to save the planet."  In May, the UK's Observeron Sunday ran a feature entitled, “Why worrying about food miles is missing the point."  In it, our carbon efficiency was lauded.

“Victoria University of Wellington’s Dr James Renwick, who is an IPCC lead chapter author, said on One News, “We’ll see more high temperature extremes, so higher frequency of hot days and less cold days”. 

“Newspapers are reporting that New Zealand can expect a climate on average 0.9 Celsius warmer by 2040 and 2.1 Celsius warmer by 2090."

“We have two options for adaption. First is researching new crops and pasture varietals in the knowledge that farms will face greater environmental stress.  This demands an on-going and bipartisan ramp up in both our agricultural research and development spend and science capability."

“The second of course is the huge opportunity we have to store rain water."

“South Canterbury’s Opuha dam, the most recent dedicated water storage facility which started operating in the late 1990’s, has proven itself by insulating South Canterbury from drought."

“It is schemes like Opuha, such as Ruataniwha now being proposed in the Hawke’s Bay, which New Zealand needs to build resilience into our economy and society."

“The constant for water remains irrespective of what current land uses are or what they could be in the future.  As we saw on the West Coast when it suffered a rare drought, sections of rivers do dry up.  The IPCC report indicates that as temperatures increase and weather patterns change, such outcomes may become a more regular occurrence."

“Stored rain water provides the means to maintain minimum flows. Water storage is as much environmental infrastructure as it is economic. Every region should be looking at storing rain water and many currently are. This report should hasten that work."

“While I do not know a lot about trout fishing what I do know is this; trout live in water and not in dry river beds."

“If water storage is being opposed for purely political grounds, then those same people who talk about the need to respond to a changing climate need to recheck their logic,” Dr Rolleston concluded.

We welcome your comments below. If you are not already registered, please register to comment.

Remember we welcome robust, respectful and insightful debate. We don't welcome abusive or defamatory comments and will de-register those repeatedly making such comments. Our current comment policy is here.


So in a nutshell, by irrevocably changing the ecology by damming rivers and diverting the water to other areas we can save the environment from us?
Sometimes I really wish I had studied philosophy so I could more eloquently state how much bollocks that all is.
All that will happen is more dairy farms, great. Here's an idea, why not incentivise types of agriculture more suited to the existing environment. A much cheaper alternative surely.
I note the reference to winter winds, talk about pandering to current fears and worries. Of course without the massive use of irrigators there would have been a substantially lower cost from the winds in Canterbury.

yep, they are taking the high ground (no pun etc...)
saying lets store water to save the environment... Where is the Values Party now....
If policy proposals such as this are put forward, at least humour us with the real reasons for their proposition rather than the media promotion/spin advertorial (you get the picture)....

“While I do not know a lot about trout fishing what I do know is this; trout live in water and not in dry river beds."
Taking up to 120 Gigalitres of water for irrigation from the Makaroro River (average annual flows well short of 200 Gigalitres) means that above its Mangaonuku confluence the Waipawa River will be dry for long periods.   

Trout are not a native fish.

and the list of mammals that are includes?

"the supply and demand for food sits on a knife edge" is also bollocks. Only in the current configuration. New Zealand is one of the least efficient food producers in the world if you count calories produced for resources applied. We produce luxury foods for rich people not food for the world. This is the form of denialism that says we don't have to address the problem and we don't have to change.

"...we produce luxury foods for rich people not food for the world ..."
You crack me up! ^_*

Well apples with apples, world data v your "NZ is fine" comment.  Speaking of denialism, if you think we can produce for the world with less and less oil, you are misyaken.  Just how pray do we survive and even prosper producing basic food for poor ppl on slim margins?
If you look at the data, well it shows yes the knife edge is deserved. 
a) Alternative uses for food, US corn stocks I think have been dropping fast as its turned into ethanol.  As a result i) less resiliance in bad years, b) mexicans are priced out of basic food.
b) More extreme weather events greatly reducing an annual crop...
c) Water, aquifiers being depleted.  Parts of china for instance are returning to traditional dry farming as the cost of pumping water is prohibitive.
d) Growing population.
e) High and increasing use of fossil fuel in food.
Even if we addresed this we'd still grow numbers...so we'd be at this problem again in a decade, maybe 2.
The trends simply have to be reversed and today....before Nature does it for us.

Might as well take the sun to task while you are at it.
The current solar activity cycle, possibly the weakest in 100 years, is approaching its maximum. This may signal a future low period for the sun, probably not unlike the one that caused the so-called Little Ice Age from the mid-16th to mid-19th centuries.
“Maunder Minimum is a period between about 1645 and 1715, in which sunspots became extremely rare. In fact some 18th century astronomers believed sunspots to be a myth. The period coincides with the so-called Little Ice Age, a time when the climate became cold enough for the River Thames in London to freeze in winter. On the gloomier side, the colder summers and harsh winters sealed the fate of the Viking colonies in Greenland, as its population starved and died out. Read more
Solutions welcome.

The energy caculations I've seen are that even a Maunder Minimum would only slow down rises due to CO2 (to be followed by a catchup when it comes out of the minimum)

Not sure on the context here....
Maybe blame nature for its inability to feed expotential  growth from a finite planet...?
Or take responsibility for yourself.
"It is now considered even more certain (> 95%) that human influence has been the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century. Natural internal variability and natural external forcings (eg the sun) have contributed virtually nothing to the warming since 1950 – the share of these factors was narrowed down by IPCC to ± 0.1 degrees."
So a game of relative...so we might see less solar activity causing a smallish effect on the rise caused by humans.  After that reverses than a small extra gain is added to human cause rise.
Read this for yourself...draw your conclusions, take responsibility for yourself.

Read this for yourself...draw your conclusions, take responsibility for yourself.
Your prescriptive nonsense will go unnoticed and certainly unheeded. You really need to get out more.

"prescriptive nonsense.....certainly unheeded"
So carry on with head in sand then?
Interesting...yes I fully expect the IPCC will go "certainly unheeded" which means 4Deg C+  by 2100. Your decendants wont be to impressed with what  their lineage has left them little to cope with whats coming. By 2150 and 6Deg C then its not likely anyone will be around to care either way.
Great nonsense that....choose to ignore the best science....

You could start by not working - the net contribution to society would be well worth the hardship or not?

You are not making any sense to me....I think maybe you are on another planet....

I'll stand by my comments. Currently the world has an efficiency and distribution problem with food not a production problem. Something like 50% of food in the US supply chain is wasted before it hits the plate. Less red meat eating would free up more land for vegetable protein farming. Land in countries like Malawi is way under-utilised because of the financial weakness of the country. And so on.
And when I say luxury foods ask yourself what percentage of the world's population gets to regularly eat red meat that is farmed pastorally?
And it doesn't matter how many dams we put in in New Zealand, because of the products we produce and the markets we are in none of our agricultural surplus will affect the "knife-edge" one whit. Its a spurious argument.

Agreed. New Zealand is a specialist protein exporter to urbanised middle classes. We started exporting 'luxury products' -butter, legs of lamb to the UK, in particular London over a century ago. Read some of Belich's books who shows that New Zealand replaced Denmark who replaced Ireland. Now we are focusing on doing the same to China's newly formed middle classes. The interesting thing is how come countries like Denmark moved on from 50% of their exports being agricultural products but New Zealand has not.
Is it because our public institutions have not supported any change in focus.

But, presumably, it will soon be in the right hands.
How apt.

If some of the big mega corps could have their way water would be in their hands, cant pay? die of thirst.
For me Im all for toppling a Govn that no longer looks after its people and leaves them to starve etc.  That isnt a society that deserves support.

  Kumbel....so what are you saying.should we shift to a low input low value range of food exports to better feed the third world?

Nope. Just that global food scarcity is a spurious reason for proposing damming everything that flows downhill. If, as a nation, we cared about global food security (which we don't) then we would look at other approaches rather than increasing Fonterra's throughput.

no one is talking about damming everthing that flows.just storing a fraction of the 80-90% of our available spare  rainwater that flows out to sea every year.We dont have a shortage of water in nz.Just a shortage of rainfall at certain times of the year.

Sure we could all become vegitarians. All that does is buy us another growth cycle, but only that if you ignore peak oil.  Then of course we could stop turning corn into ethanol....which is what Americans are doing.
On top of that, sure we could become in effect a third world resource producing cheap food to feed the world cheap.
That sure looks like a great lifestyle based on that.
Frankly if other countries want to breed to starvation then I fail to see why its up to me or NZ to temporily fix that and let them breed more....sooner or later we wont be able to fix it.
Really the choice is let some millions starve to death now, or 10s of millions later, I fail to see later as better...

Looks like its a question of degree not major U-turns. You've spurred me to make my first visit to Meatless Mondays where I found this gem:
The water needs of livestock are tremendous, far above those of vegetables or grains. An estimated 1,800 to 2,500 gallons of water go into a single pound of beef. Soy tofu produced in California requires 220 gallons of water per pound.
These people seem to be promoting a shift to one vegetarian day per week; not really that significant in the New Zealand context but look at those water savings. You could fill whole dams with them.
As Bernard has noted on more than one occasion fertility rates are plummeting around the world. The expected plateauing of human population once scheduled for 2050 looks like it might arrive sooner. Another reason why finding efficiencies in the supply chain and reconfiguring what products are grown where are more likely to deliver the results than letting FedFarm and Monsanto loose on the problem.

Degree? no we need huge U turns on population...yes it need to plumet and not trail off a little.
"Meatless Mondays", personally I work the opposite way I have 1 or 2 meat days then I try and avoid it the rets of the week....it has taken me some years however, strange thing is after a while a little as a "treat" is nice, too much and my system doesnt seem to appreciate it.
The eventual plateau is way to high, even 7billion today is way to high let alone 9billion in 2050.
"it might arrive sooner" yes I think I'd guarantee that with us needing huge quantities of fossil inputs to our food chain and that becoming scarce and expensive that it will be sooner, way sooner...I dont think 20 years.
"Supply chain", globalisation is finished, the fossil fuel cost to move food will outweigh its cost, or rather the end reciepiant's ability to pay for food and fuel.  It has to be grown locally.
Monsato, sick joke IMHO...they dont fix anything except lining their pockets...

  Kumbel    "tofu vs beef" i think your water calculations would be in a feed lot scenario.In nz much of our stock get water from the grass they eat or water stored in rain/spring filled dams.So no worries mate..
like Mick Dundee says regarding tofu
"you can live on it but it tastes like shit.."

If water storage is simply to open up more land to dairying then no. We cannot keep on adding more and more cows to the land, it needs to be utilized in a less water demanding less nutrient adding way.
The requirement for water is far too high for dairying in naturally arid land, in a drought like last year's the rivers would stop flowing altogether, too high a price to pay