Minister acts to prevent damming on Nevis River

Press Release – New Zealand Government

Hon Amy Adams

Minister for the Environment
1 November 2013

Minister acts to prevent damming on Nevis River

Environment Minister Amy Adams has today announced that she has decided to prevent damming on the Nevis River in Otago.

Ms Adams says that a dam or diversion on the lower Nevis River would have major negative effects on its wild and scenic qualities, and fishing and kayaking.

“This has been a difficult decision and one that I have given a great deal of thought and consideration.

“I have decided in favour of a unique native fishery and an unusual river feature in agreeing to amend a water conservation order to add outstanding characteristics and prevent damming on the Nevis River.

“The benefits of preserving the option of a dam on the Nevis River, which is a tributary of the Kawarau River, are relatively insignificant in terms of New Zealand’s overall electricity generation capacity.

“I am guided by the commissioners’ findings and am of the opinion that the benefits of banning future damming are more compelling and of greater national benefit.

“It is important to protect the Nevis galaxiid and trout fisheries, and the wild and scenic characteristics of the river, especially for fishing and kayaking.”

The 1997 Kawarau water conservation order protects a number of water bodies related to the Kawarau River. It protects some of its tributaries including the Nevis River, for their outstanding natural, scientific, recreational and other values.

However, the order included an option to allow damming of the Nevis River as long as water flows were sufficient to permit kayaking.

New Zealand and Otago Fish and Game Councils applied to amend the order to ban damming of the Nevis altogether.

The application also sought recognition of a special feature of the geography of the Upper Nevis River which was “captured” by the Kawarau 500,000 to 800,000 years ago.

Prior to this, the Nevis used to flow in the other direction. This geographic isolation makes the Nevis galaxiid unique.

The application has gone through a public process, was considered by a special tribunal and then by the Environment Court.

The judge and commissioners were unable to agree on whether there should be an absolute prohibition on damming of the Nevis River and so the Court presented two reports with separate recommendations to Ms Adams.

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