Central Plains Water irrigation scheme opens in Canterbury

  • Nathan Guy
Primary Industries

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has welcomed the official opening of Stage 1 of the Central Plains Water irrigation scheme in Canterbury today, which has the potential to create more than $1 billion in new economic activity.

The Central Plains Water Enhancement Scheme, when completed, will irrigate 60,000 hectares of dairy, arable, horticulture and stock finishing land between the Rakaia and Waimakariri Rivers. 

“This is an exciting day for the Canterbury region, given that farmers and growers have suffered through a severe drought this year. This shows the clear need for this kind of water storage project.

“The scheme will deliver major economic and environmental benefits. Stage 1 will enable the irrigation of 20,000ha of farmland from this coming irrigation season onwards, 15,000ha of which was previously irrigated from deep groundwater.

“Providing this reliable water supply is estimated to generate economic activity of between $1 billion and $1.4 billion, an export boost of $328 million per year across the Canterbury region, and around 1,100 new full-time equivalent jobs.

“Reducing deep groundwater abstraction will also reduce electricity use and improve water quality in Te Waihora Lake Ellesmere.

“This opening is the result of over 15 years of effort by a number of people and organisations. The CPWL Board, staff and contractors have enabled the scheme to be constructed on time and within budget, which is a great achievement.

“Congratulations are also due to the shareholding farmers, Selwyn District Council, Trustpower, local runanga and the wider community through the Selwyn Waihora Zone Committee and staff.”

The Government has supported the project through Crown Irrigation Investments Ltd, which has invested $6.5 million into Central Plains Water Stage 1, and the Irrigation Acceleration Fund (IAF) which invested $5.3 million into the early stages.

The Scheme is planned as a three stage development. The early investigation phases of Stage 2 are currently underway with funding support of a further $3.5 million from the IAF.

In this year’s budget the Government made $25 million in operating funding available for the IAF. The Government has also allocated $120 million to Crown Irrigation Investments Ltd over the last two years.