Project Aqua

Project Aqua

Project Aqua was a proposed hydroelectric scheme for the lower Waitaki River in New Zealand. [ [ "The Project Aqua Design Difference"] , Wednesday, 2 July 2003, Press Release: Meridian Energy] It met with considerable opposition by some of the residents of the area, and although the scheme also had considerable support locally, Meridian Energy decided in March 2004 not to go ahead with construction.

The plan was to divert river water at the rate of up to 280 cubic metres per second into a separate canal for six power stations. This was on top of the three dams already in the upper Waitaki. The scheme would have produced approximately 520MW of power — enough to supply a city the size of Christchurch.

The issues that people had with the scheme included land issues, the disruption during construction, and concerns about the sustainability of the river. Meridian was working on a large scale mitigation process, whereby issues could be identified and mitigated, when the scheme was finally cancelled.

On the March 29, 2004, Meridian announced that they would not continue with Project Aqua. Among their reasons were the uncertainty in gaining access to the water, that Aqua could not come on line soon enough to meet New Zealand's growing electricity demand, the amount of money it was costing the company, design changes due to geology reports, and the Resource Management Act made large water based projects difficult to get consent for." [ Speed up RMA, says business] " - "New Zealand Herald", Monday 5 April 2004]

Meridian's 2004 annual report states they lost NZ$38.7 million on the project. At the time of cancellation they had spent considerably more than this, but much of the expenditure was for assets such as land that they would later sell.


External links

* [ Meridian Energy]
* [ Waitaki River Users Liaison Group]
* [] - Press release on the proposal

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