A national water strategy and water storage facilities top the wish list of the country’s 3500 irrigators.
Crown Irrigation Investments Ltd has granted development funding to Hunter Downs Water Ltd (HDW) to progress its project.
Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy explains: “This development grant funding will be used by Hunter Downs Water to complete the next stage of its programme as it works toward becoming construction ready.”
The Hunter Downs scheme will have capacity to irrigate 21,000ha in an area located between Waimate and Timaru in South Canterbury.
Guy says the grant is an important step for the project which could have major benefits for South Canterbury.
“The environmental and recreational benefits from this project include increased flows in surface waterways and in the Wainono Lagoon, protection of mudfish habitats and improved game bird and trout habitats.
“Irrigation schemes in other regions have brought real economic and environmental gains. A reliable source of water gives certainty to farmers and growers, and helps them plan ahead and deal with droughts and dry spells.”
The scheme has been granted consents with rigorous environmental protections and will support a variety of land uses including beef, arable, horticulture and dairy. Water will be available for town supplies in Timaru and Waimate.
All decisions by Crown Irrigation Investments are made by an experienced, independent board. Strict conditions have to be met including sound governance and matched funding.
HDW aims to begin construction on the Morven Glenavy Ikawai Irrigation Company (MGI) canal this winter, for commissioning in spring 2019.
The scheme on the supply of alpine water from the Waitaki River via MGI’s canal and mainline infrastructure.
Murray Gribben, chief executive of Crown Irrigation, says the grant will pave the way for economic, agricultural and environmental benefits for the region.
“Work on this project has been going on for a long time; the scheme has benefited enormously from 10 years collaborative work by Meridian Energy and the Hunter Downs Irrigation Scheme Trust. HDW was established in 2013 and is a farmer and community led project.
“Irrigation schemes have added significant economic and environmental benefits to local regions and the New Zealand economy in other parts of the country and the Hunter Downs Water Project should deliver significant resilience to the local economy.”
Crown Irrigation funds development and construction of irrigation schemes nationwide. The money helps support (through matched funding) the development of irrigation infrastructure proposals to the stage where they are ready for construction, which means they must be commercially robust and be well supported by their communities.
The Hunter Downs Irrigation Scheme is the outcome of ten years work bby Meridian Energy Ltd and the Hunter Downs Irrigation Scheme Trust (formerly the South Canterbury Irrigation Trust).
It will provide a reliable water supply for farms and communities between Waimate and Timaru from 2020.
The water will allow intensification of existing dry land farms and conversion to new farm types, with subsequent economic benefit and improved resilience for the greater South Canterbury region.