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We fear that there is trouble brewing m the county m connection with the question of the water races. There can be no question whatever as to the immense benefit which has been conferred on the great body of landowners and occupiers by the system of water races of which Ashbuiton County and its governing body are justly proud, but it is at the same time quite evident that there is a not inconsiderable minority, consisting of owners of swamp land, who rightly or wrongly consider — and this is a matter upon which they ought to be competent judges, that they have suffered rather than benefited m consequence of percolation from the water races on to lands already sufficiently, or more than sufficiently, supplied with water. It is natural that each persons should view with, alarm any proposal for the extension of the water supply, such as would be likely to aggravate the grievance of which they complain, and for this reason we cannot regard their mouthpieces at yesterday's meeting of the Council, Messrs Wright and Grigg, as unreasonable m asking that the question of enlarging the mains should be postponed for a month to enable the whole matter to be thoroughly enquired into. We can quite understand that those Councillors whose districts are suffering from an insufficient water supply are anxious to remedy this state of things as speedily as possible, but they may not be the best judges as to the effect produced upon districts m which the conditions existent are of a totally opposite nature. The Chairman and Mr Harper deny that water percolates from the races into the surrounding landß to any appreciable extent — the latter contending with, it must be admitted, the appearance of sound argument, that if this were the case very little water would reach the terminal point of the races — while Messrs Wright and Grigg reply, by adducing as proof positive that there is percolation to a very large extent, the facts that since the races were constructed the water m wells at Windermere has been raised six or seven feet, and that gravel pits, which were formerly clear of water very early m the summer, now remain so full of water that for the greater part of the year not an ounce of gravel can be taken from them. Whether this be a case of pott hoc sed non propter hoc, or whether he effect is traceable to the cause alleged is a point which ought to be certainly determined, and for this reason we cannot help thinking that it would have been well, if the Council had agreed to the delay asked for, and m the meantime taken steps to set the disputed point definitely at rest. As the matter stands it appears certain that if the grievance of the owners of swamp lands is intensified as the result of the enlargement of the races there will be litigation, — a possibility or probability which is not by any means desirable. \ ,

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Bibliographic details

THE WATER SUPPLY QUESTION., Ashburton Guardian, Volume VII, Issue 2053, 2 February 1889

Word Count

THE WATER SUPPLY QUESTION. Ashburton Guardian, Volume VII, Issue 2053, 2 February 1889