Over 600 people showed up for a meeting on the Ruataniwha Dam in Napier last night to hear people from both sides of the debate present their arguments.
The Hawke's Bay Regional Council's investment company HBRIC told the crowd the $600 million water storage project would help improve the state of the regions rivers and give Central Hawke's Bay an economic boost.
But those opposed presented arguments saying the dam was not financially viable, could not go ahead without breaching strict nitrogen limits, and warned the process could be held up by a challenge to a proposed land swap of conservation land.
Among the crowd were members of parliament; some of the region's mayors, environmentalists and farmers; and two bus loads of people from Central Hawke's Bay.
The meeting was organised by local newspaper Hawke's Bay Today, and editor Andrew Austin said the large turnout showed how much interest there was in the dam.
Mr Austin said the meeting was important to keep the public officials promoting the dam accountable.
"And we have a right to know how our money is being spent and what is happening to our environment. If they can tick the boxes on both those, that's fine but if they can't then we are going to shine a spotlight on that," he said.
HBRIC has so far only signed half the minimum number of farmers needed to make the dam viable and it has not yet announced any private investors to replace the Trustpower and Ngai Tahu who pulled out last year.