In November last year TrustPower announced their intention to build a new hydro dam at Dobson, on the South Island West Coast. The original proposal outlined the project as the largest hydro scheme since the Clyde dam, at an estimated cost of $100 million. The scheme proposed taking water from the Arnold River through a canal system to a storage lake behind Dobson.
TrustPower held a core stakeholders meeting in November 1999 to test the water and see what everybody's thoughts were. At the meeting, the two main opponents to the scheme were kayakers and anglers, and this has been confirmed by later newspaper coverage. At that meeting TrustPower indicated that the scheme would take 2/3 of the water out of the Arnold River. Concerns were expressed by kayakers that this would not leave enough water in the river for kayaking. Local kayakers estimate that a minimum of 35 cumecs is required for paddling the Arnold, but 65 cumecs is the best flow.
Since meeting in late 1999, TrustPower have been less co-operative in providing information to kayakers, despite our role as a core stakeholder. Maree Baker (NZRCA), Geoff Price (White Water Canoe Club) and I have been involved in representing the interests of white water kayakers when communicating with TrustPower.
In early August this year, three paddlers from the Westland Canoe Club met with TrustPower to talk about what they wanted to do and what we needed. The representatives from Trustpower talked about how they had done work with kayakers in the North Island, but they were fairly uninformed about the needs of local paddlers.
Options discussed to make up for the loss of the Arnold River included a slalom course and play wave in the release channel from the power station and scheduled releases with guaranteed minimum flows. These "benefits" are being protested by kayakers, as this scheme will essentially destroy the river for kayaking, and there is no alternative to the Arnold for teaching and learning in the Greymouth area.
TrustPower is currently completing an assessment of the environmental effects of the scheme, which includes input from local clubs. If you want to contact Glenn Murdoch, who has been representing the views of recreational kayakers, phone; withheld.