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Crops at risk, and our water supply

Clive Bibby

Having decided to continue my contributions to the wellbeing of this community solely via the columns of this newspaper, l offer two suggestions to the incoming Gisborne District Council — both of which have the capacity to make a difference irrespective of who occupies the seats at the council table after October.

They are both related to dealing with the effects of climate change.

1) 1News on Sunday night included a worrying scientific assessment of how global warming (particularly during winter months) could affect the Tairawhiti region’s ability to grow crops that require winter chilling and/or stable winter temperatures for successful fruit set. The likely affected crops include some that we currently grow exceptionally well.

The study in question suggested these crops may be relocated to areas like Southland where more stable winter temperatures will produce reliable tonnages that we may no longer be able to achieve here.

It seems that in future we will have to find replacements for these and possibly others related to the red meat industry, that will be affected by more frequent droughts and require more on-farm water storage. It will not be easy.

Developments of this nature add weight to my frequently expressed opinion that as a nation, we should be concentrating more on how we deal with the effects of climate change than wasting our energy and resources trying to stop it happening.

I am not opposed to doing what we can to reduce our emissions, but only in the context of our planning for a future that benefits the people who actually live in this blessed country.

2) l have been saying for ages that the main emphasis for this region’s long-term planning should be to build reliable fresh water storage facilities that are capable of servicing the needs of our population growth and the development of our agriculture industry in the shadow of climate change — ie, additional reliable fresh water reservoirs in safe localities that can supply our needs without a dependence on our unreliable aquifer resource.

Included in that mix should be consideration given to ensuring every household has a minimum of 30,000 litres of rainwater storage.

This could be a requirement for “new builds” and part of a supplementation plan for every household that doesn’t already have that capacity. Community-wide installation of extra tanks could be achieved through a water rating system that allows for repayment via discounted rates.

A new council shouldn’t have difficulty acting on this advice.

Not to do so will be a betrayal of us all.