Until recently, New Zealand's spectacular Clutha River was threatened by four hydro dams proposed by Contact Energy, at Tuapeka Mouth, Beaumont, Queensberry and Luggate. This website remains active as a reminder that our New Zealand rivers are still not safe from commercial exploitation.

What People Say

NZ HERALD April 2009

Should a new hydro-electric dam be built on the Clutha River?

Kingi (Auckland)
I think the source of energy is off shore in the sea and not inshore in the rivers and lakes.

Moe's (Half Moon Bay)
What bothers me the most in this debate is that there are two types of anti dam people, the first are people that have become so out of touch that they would prefer humanity to go back to the stone age the other type has an agenda for example to artificially create a shortage then hike the price up like the Enron?s of this world, maybe they have shares in a uranium mine or wind farms.

To compete and progress in the world New Zealand needs cheap renewable electricity to benefit the whole country not just a few lazy hippies and rich private businesses concerns. Power to the poeple put it to the vote.

mountie (Mt Maunganui)
I think Moe of (half moon bay) probably needs to get out of the city once in a while and see some of the country he is so keen to see drowned. I dont understand also how it can truly be renewable when in some cases ancient rain forest is lost forever. One day we will run out of rivers to dam and what then? We will then have to bite bullet and do somthing else, and by then our beautifull river valleys will be mostly be a memory. I think questions need to be asked about the intended lifespan of these dams and what happens when they start to crumble?

Kingi (Auckland)
I would rather use less electricity than build a new hydro dam on the Clutha River. Tampering with natural forces as strong as the Clutha can cause reverse effects. Key should extend on insulation, implementing solar, wind and water tanks to every new and existing househould and industry.

Keith Wellington (Wellington City)
NZ needs to get serious about using existing resources more efficiently. 1 million houses, many uninsulated, using resistance elements for comfort and water heating impose a huge load on the grid. Heat pumps for both applications could reduce the load by up to 70%. Solar water heating also has a place but is not the panacea suppliers claim. A recent conversion of a small dairy farm to heat reclaimed from its chiller condenser for hot water requirements the milking shed has seen its electricity use drop 75%.

sand (Auckland)
No. Don't mess up the river ecosystem any further. Nuclear is not "clean, green" energy, but uses a lot of water, as well as producing radioactive waste. Uranium mining is very polluting. Nuclear plants are also darn ugly. Wind turbines are getting sleeker and more efficient all the time, and we have lots of wind in NZ. We should be initiating solar power as well.

Richard Prosser (Rangiora)
Beaumont is just being selfish, I mean really, why shouldn't your town be flooded to make power for Aucklanders? Do you really think those people up there want to have to look at some other kind of power station, maybe one in their own back yard?

Same goes for Waikato farmers, how self-centred you are, fancy not wanting to have giant pylons buzzing over your houses and frying your childrens' brains, just how else are we going to get Otago's power to Auckland's consumers?

If only we'd had the foresight to build that one single nuclear station on the Kaipara back in the sixties we wouldn't be having this discussion right now. Then again, if Auckland could grow up and plant its own wind farms - where it can see them - we wouldn't be having it either.

City of Sails, with all that wind to be harvested? C'mon Auckland, get with the programme. The rest of us have held your hand long enough. Ugly blots on the landscape aren't just for the rest of the country, you know.

Ricardo (Papakura)
Absolutely. Clean and green. Ooops, someone will tell me I'm wrong for sure. Get over yourselves, hydro is the cleanest around. (Editorial Note: The lifecycle carbon footprint of hydropower is actually 2-6 larger than that of windpower. The hydropower industry has successfully promoted this myth by ignoring construction, hydrological and decommissioning issues.) Then we may be able to turn off or use less the coal stations over winter.

Rodney (Howick)
You can't store wind, but you can store water.
Editorial Note: Contact Energy have admitted that there would be minimal "storage" gains because any new dam would have a "run of the river" regime, similar to the existing dams. A Tuapeka dam would create the largest operating range of around 2m, which equates to approximately 72 hrs of generation. Lake Hawea remains the only effective storage for any new dam on the Clutha. Another dam only allows for more versitility in times of generation each day.

Realist (Auckland)
I think there should be a lot more hydro dams, and why not on the Clutha. Dams are the best way to get electricity, and we are going to need a lot more of it when we move to electric cars. Anyway, lakes can be great recreation areas and some are a lot prettier than the rivers that were there before.

Wiremu (Wadestown)
The Clutha is a mighty river, with twice the water of the next biggest Kiwi river (the Waitaki). The Clutha could make enough power for everybody in the country to sit around in warmth while they watch the evening's Reality shows from Auckland. We used to live by the Clutha and pick Moorpark apricots while the river roared and smoked like a dragon far below us , but they built the Clyde dam. Now you can just hear the wind in an empty valley.

Kiwi Oz (New South Wales)
No more dams on the Clutha please, and for goodness sake let's not even consider the nuclear choice. NZ is a windy country, and despite my reservations about wind farms being located in pristine wilderness areas, wind farms seem a sensible alernative. And locating power sources closer to the major population centres makes economic sense - a "power miles" concept perhaps.

Kirk (New South Wales)
Hydro is much greener than wind power - and reliable, acts as a base load, allows effective power "storage", takes up less space than a wind farm capable of producing a fraction of the power, is kinder to wildlife, doesn't make wind noise etc etc. Try taking off your anti-Nat blinkers.
Editorial Note: See above editorial notes regarding the 'greeness' of hydropower and the mythical storage.

Shazbot Nanu Nanu (Auckland)
If you follow renewable energy, you know that dams are not being considered a serious option anymore (except for China perhaps).

There are some obvious reasons such as the environmental impact, initial capital outlay, use of fresh water among others.

However, one of the main reasons not to build dams is the likely impact of climate change on fresh water. With climate change, the pattern and redistribution of fresh water gives no guarantee that the dam will be able to provide the intended max output. This is a major reason dams are projected to have a significantly reduced % of the overall energy picture within the US.

The claims against wind not being appropriate for base load are actually antiquted these days. There have been many models created that show distribution of wind farms across a large geograhpic region combined with solar, wave and other renewables is an effective solution to the base load problem. Also storage is being improved significantly with many options being considered to handle the excess capacity to be used in times of low output.

Nuclear is an option however NZ would need its own Yucca Mtn for waste and it would like take 15years minimum to build.

Pedrovsky (Gisborne)
Yes please. hydro is 2nd only to nuclear in terms of 'good' generation. Wind is a waste of time. What is so bad with hydro.ruin the environment?! can also be read as provide nice lakes.

Deal to Crims (Rotorua)
Yes they should build the dam for a couple of reasons:
Price is a factor of supply and demand - the more supply the lower the price of electricity.

For the same reason we should also build nuclear power stations which are just as clean and product at far lower cost per KW/hr

The recreational facilities created by hydro-dams are equally or valuable than the original river - for example Lake Karapiro is now a world class venue for rowing, powerboat racing and waterskiing championships. Dams can enhance the environment and provide recreational facility.

We need electricity, we need recreational facilities, we need dams and we need nuclear at some point in the future.
Editorial Note: Are these improved 'recreational facilities' for all the fly fishermen, kayakers, canoeists, rafters, spinner-fishermen, river jetboaters, the tourist operators on the Clutha, and all the NZ'ers and tourists who enjoy this scarce wild river recreational resource. Why reduce that resource? If you prefer flat water recreation, there seems to a good supply of lakes already, especially in the 'Queenstown Lakes District.'

Povi Masima (Huapai)
Why allow Contact to destroy the local environment and then overcharge us for electricity? We've been down this track - time to look at alternatives - wind, tidal, solar - plenty of options.

Ian (Glen Eden)
Why oh why do we still persist in pursuing the dam option for generating power, when wind is by far the best and most abundant form of power generation know to humankind!

As long as we have these idiots running and planning our future power generation (including the current Minister, who's govt refuses to think outside the square on any issue), then we will continue to build these power plants that are outdated and destroy our clean, green image.

At least with wind-farms the whole world can see we are thinking of the planet.

Lady Barbie Girl (Epsom)
Yeah, why not, because anything that can improve New Zealand's third world power grit would be an enormous improvement.

AJ (Churton Park)
No no no to more dams on the clutha. Stop destroying beautiful NZ. I am for wind turbines and live in ohariu valley in Wellington where a wind turbine farm is planned. Unlike most locals I am for the turbines as I believe this is lesser of two evils. NZ needs some way to produce power and wind is the best resource we have to provide this - so lets use it!

Mikel D (United Kingdom)
I have just spent a week around the coast of Cornwall, UK and noticed in the distance many wind turbines. It didn't look so bad. As I had remembered some time ago the the people of the Wellington Coast were complaining about the environmental visual impact these turbines would create.

I believe there is some but take in account what you are generating for free with out destroying hundreds of aches of New Zealand landscape. I remember as a child going through this wonderful pristine landscape along the Clutha River. This area was productive with Orchards along its river banks not only that the landscape was extraordinary. Remember that?

Cromwell Junction, destroyed by the Clyde dam in 1993Cromwell Junction, destroyed by the Clyde dam in 1993

Some years later I saw on hand the total annihilation of this landscape. Then the last visit The Dam. Not a tree in sight? So NZ are you considering this again upon this landscape. Why. Get those turbines up along the coasts and the ranges and stop this senseless annihilation of our wonderful country.

adam (Kingsland)
Most people are ignorant of the fact that the best cherries in the world are from a few small orchards on the Clutha at Millers Flat. I would rather face a return to the dark ages before drowning those orchards and losing that fruit.

The Cromwell dam completely wiped out the best apricots in the world and one of the best drives in NZ. (ask anyone who remembers driving the old Cromwell gorge) People from all over the world like to visit Central Otago because it's beautiful and it tastes good. Why destroy the beauty of NZ so the ugly parts can prosper?

The whole world already has strip malls, light industrial estates, suburbs and factories. More people should visit Central Otago to see for themselves why four more dams would take out one of the best parts of our country.

Parks White (Laingholm)
"Dam the dam!", cried the fantail, as it flew into, it flew into the sky. To give power to the people all this beauty has to die.

fed up (Titirangi)
Interesting that no mention is being made of solar energy. We could simply make it mandatory that all new buildings are required to include Photo-Voltaic arrays on the roof. The number of pannels to be determined by the roof size for example. Pannels to make up say a minimum of 10% of the size of the roof?

The raw materials involved in construction of PV Arrays are pretty cheap - mainly silicon - and if cost is an issue, we could simply set up an SOE to manufacture basic but efficient pannels. Existing retailers can meet the market or offer value added solutions if they wish.

Every day, even cloudy ones, we are simply wasting a perfectly green, free energy source. Just imagine what the impact would be if every home had solar arrays. Even a small array can supply a good portion of a homes energy needs for a year. Can you imagine what it would do to our power supply if house hold power usage dropped by say 50%?

JonnyW (Roseneath, Wellington City)
As baffled said - why should you folks have an opinion that counts? People don't read the Herald down south. Otago already produces ten times more power than it uses - and yet now has at least half a dozen more wind farms or dams being promoted. The only remotely substantive justification provided for this slaughtering of Otago's landscapes is 'the national interest' - and we get accused of being NIMBYS? And somehow the idea you might power your own region with wind and hydro seems to be p***ing in the wind!?

Introduce a subsidy for retrofitting existing buildings and we could greatly reduce our dependence on other power sources.

Man in a Hat (Titirangi)
Hydro is good. Build it.

Tommy (Tauranga)
Yes, get on with it, as another has said.

ella girl (Auckland)
I'm sure that we wouldn't need to build a damn dam if we actually thought about the way we used electrity. Most of it is wasted. Make it illegal to bring in electronics that don't turn themselves off after a certain time. Make is blinkin expensive for businesses to leave their office lights on for no good reason when there isn't anyone in the building at night. at least supporting insulating people's houses is a start.and someone start an environmental party and let's all stop pretending the greenies aren't red.

Rodney (Howick)
Well duh! Everyone knows that dams store water. We also know that wind isn't a reliable source of energy. Neither for that matter is rain water. However more dams will have the capacity to store more water which would simply have run off into the sea. Ultimately it goes into the sea anyway, so why not have an electricity turbine generating power by the water on its way out?
Editorial Note: This storage is a myth. Contact Energy have admitted that there would be minimal "storage" gains because any new dam would have a "run of the river" regime, similar to the existing dams. A Tuapeka dam would create the largest operating range of around 2m, which equates to approximately 72 hrs of generation. Lake Hawea remains the only effective storage for any new dam on the Clutha. Another dam only allows for more versitility in times of generation each day.

Kirk (New South Wales)
Just get on with it and build a new dam. Hydro dams provide a great big "battery" for effective power storage - something wind generation will never do. And in a much smaller physical area than the masses of wind farms needed to acheive the same power output (on windy days).
Editorial Note: Please see previous comment regarding storage. Also, if you covered the whole of the proposed Tuapeka reservoir area (3400 h) with photovoltaic cells [solar power panels] you would get 3400 megawatts, or more than ten times the amount of power (320 mw) from a dam at Tuapeka Mouth.

Cartman (Auckland)
I think we should complete all the projects. Then get rid of gas power stations.

JB (Pakuranga)
Finally a long term solution to several of the problems this country faces. Not only will the building of the new dam(s) create more electricity, it will create hundreds of new jobs in the construction industry but also the local community would benefit for years to come. When Lake Benmore was created above the Clyde Dam, they flooded old Cromwell and created a whole new town. Now there is a thriving fishing and tourisim industry there. The alternitives to hydro power are not worth contemplating (wind power that is seasonal or god forbid.nuclear). Bring on the new dams!
Editorial Note: Do you actually know where Lake Benmore is? Please find out where people live before you decide to drown their homes and land.

bruce greig (Rangiora)
This is the best thing ive heard to happen for new zealand's future in 10 years. common sense [instead of the ugly wind farms]

Aklr In Exile (Napier)
It would be great to see more power generation in the North Island. On the other hand, who has the most clout- a North Island Iwi or a bunch of South Island Farmers?
Come on Contact, let's place power generation where it's needed. That is arable land you want to flood and someday, we just might need food.

I was gutted when the wind farm proposal was refused because it was on an Iwi's sacred mountain- that definition applies to nearly all windy, exposed mountains in the North Island. Now a precedent has been set, more wanton destruction of river valleys is on the cards.

Kaley (Canada)
The best option is for NZ to educate itself before jumping on any pro/anti-dam bandwagon.

As a young NZ born-and-bred Civil Engineer (currently undertaking specialist studies in dam engineering), I continue to be amazed at the lack of intelligence exhibited by those making the most noise when it comes to issues such as this. It is imperative that momentum is spurred by fact and reason.

By all means, have an opinion, but make sure you make every effort to weigh the true pros and cons before deciding (and acting) on your views.

The public consultation process is incredibly powerful. Please, do your homework. Search for the facts both for and against any 'case' you may consider and ultimately, make your voices heard.

Think twice, act once. It's the future of our country.

Rodney (Howick)
To those people who advocate wind-farms, consider this. You can store water but not wind. The only decision is where to store your water. We want power but not dams. You can't have it both ways.
Editorial Note: Again, even Contact Energy disagrees with you about the old storage argument on the Clutha, where existimg and proposed dams are 'run of the river.'

wally (Marlborough Sounds)
The Clutha River is there for us to destroy in the name of profits and waste, right Contact?

Otagoite (Opoho)
Instead of permanently flooding good land and destroying communities in Otago, let's have more small to medium scale windfarms in the North Island.

Things have changed since the last "Think Big" projects were built on the Clutha. Smaller scale wind generation is now a real option for generating energy close to where it's used. If industries and North Island residents want more electricity they should deal with the consequences of this in their own backyards rather than expecting Otago people to do this yet again.


About This Site

'Save The Clutha' supports the 'Option 5 Campaign' launched by the Clutha River Forum, an alliance of river and conservation groups opposed to further "Think Big" dams on the Clutha River.

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