Arnold article from the press.


Arnold River hydro plan released for public discussion
22 November 2006

A controversial proposal for a $185 million hydro-power scheme on the West Coast's Arnold River has been released for public comment.

The TrustPower scheme has been debated in varying forms for years, with opponents questioning its impact on the river. This week, the West Coast Regional District Council notified the application by TrustPower to build, operate and maintain a scheme in the middle reaches of the Arnold River Valley.

The scheme would produce 220GWh (gigawatt hours) of power a year.

Under the proposal, water will be drawn from the Arnold River, east of Greymouth, at the site of an existing dam, and conveyed to a storage pond and power station before being discharged back to the river via a regulation pond. TrustPower operates several other small hydro schemes on the West Coast, including the Arnold Dam which will be decommissioned when the new scheme is complete.

In 2000, TrustPower proposed a 70MW scheme with significant storage which involved a land swap with the Department of Conservation (DOC). The department rejected the exchange because it involved flooding part of an ecological area.

"This (new proposal) is a rebirth of that scheme without any DOC land involvement whatsoever," TrustPower community relations manager Graeme Purches said.

Kayakers had opposed the scheme on the grounds it would reduce the flow of one of the sport's best rivers in the South Island.

Purches said TrustPower would include a world-class kayak course at the lower end of the scheme as part of its plans.

"We've put it in as a tentative proposal but it's not confirmed at this stage because if it doesn't stack up financially or if we can't get the requisite support then it simply won't go ahead," Purches said.

Greymouth kayaker Andy England said kayakers would welcome the chance to look at the proposal.

"None of us wants to impede progress but most kayakers believe there could be other sources identified and it's always a shame to lose a natural free-flowing river," he said.

Submissions on the application close in January

kieron1's picture

Yup, that's exactly what we did. Cheers

andy.backhouse's picture

Westland Canoe Club has regular weeknight summer trips down the Arnold & use it for our beginner courses etc. We would sorely miss the Arnold & don't want this development, but the local political scene is generally pro-development, & it may end up progressing. We will object wherever we can, in the hope that if it does go ahead, we may get some reasonable mitigation. Certainly the Arnold could make for an international standard slalom & rodeo course with flow control (within limits) if Trustpower got the go ahead & were made to give us some suitable mitigation. As it stands the course below the dam (1, above) would be little use even with some modification, mostly for beginners. 2, the tailrace option is the place with great potential, but as Trustpower have nothing about it in the current resource consent application, they are obviously promising nothing.

Various organisations submitted on the proposal for kayakers: Tai Poutini, Grey High CC, Westland CC, Independent kayakers (Andy England did this one). I can get copies of submissions for anyone interested.

So don't count on any usable mitigation. Object to the loss of the Arnold & we'll either get to keep it, or perhaps get something useful instead.

kieron1's picture

The position of the NZRCA and the thrust of our submission: we don't want the scheme, and no amount of mitigation will suffice. The Arnold is a great resource and if it is taken away the kayaking community will suffer a net loss of amenity. As I understand, this is also the position of Tai Poutini Polytechnic and Greymouth High School who both use the Arnold regularly as an instruction facility and will also be submitting against the scheme.

That said, there are I believe two options on the table for mitigation IF the scheme goes ahead:

1. Narrowing of the river mainly for WW instruction purposes immediately below the (existing - to be reinforced) dam - narrowing is necessary to make the likely minimum flow of 12m≥/s paddleable.

2. Construction of a more extensive WW facility at the tailrace and regulation pond where water from the scheme re-enters the river and flows are therefore more useable.

Local paddlers & instructors from the two institutions mentioned above are the primary users of the river and so far have been doing most of the talking with Trustpower. NZRCA hopes to support their position.

Comments welcome. Let's gauge some opinion...!

peter0's picture

If the power station goes ahead, does anybody know what kayakers will benefit from this? Eg Slalom Course, Play Wave etc