“Since Opuha has been in place, the river has not gone dry. It got very close to it the two seasons before now, but the dam had just enough water to keep the river going, so I really do believe it has been a win, win for all the community.”
Having a reliable water source in the catchment has had a direct impact on the economic growth of South Canterbury.
“One of the telling factors is when the onion factory first started up in the late 90’s, we needed 80 people so I went through WINZ and asked them to organise some staff. They just told people, anyone who wants to work at Southern Packers, show up at the WINZ office at 9am. 700 people came,” Tony says.
And yet now, they have to bring in workers from outside the district because there are not enough people locally.
“Water brings employment and growth and jobs, but it just needs to be balanced with environmental concerns to ensure we're not polluting rivers and waterways and that we're managing the environment sustainably.”