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Hundreds protest Hurunui dam project

Published: 6:33PM Friday October 16, 2009 Source: ONE News

Hundreds of protesters took the streets of Christchurch on Friday to show their opposition to the proposed damming of a North Canterbury river.

Farmers want to dam the Hurunui River to use the water for irrigation, but many river users in the area say it shouldn't be touched.

The stored water would irrigate up to 42,000 hectares of land over summer, with river flows lowered in winter while the dam fills.

"It seems a waste to me that all this water runs out to sea," says Mike Hodgen, of the Hurunui Water Project.

"As long as it's managed responsibly, I can't see that it's a major detriment to the river. In the long term, for the prosperity of the district, it's vital."

But locals and protesters, including the Green Party, are not convinced and worried about the effect the dam would have on fishing and kayaking.

"We've already lost so many of our wild rivers to dams, pollution, water extraction, we don't want to lose another," says Green Party spokesperson Russell Norman.

Kayaker Emily Arthur says the river is in a quite pristine state and should be kept that way.

A decision on whether to go ahead with the proposal will be made in the coming months.