CIF Project: Mayfield Hinds Irrigation Scheme – Scheme Piping Proposal

Grant No: 10/10

Last updated: November 2012

Contact details

Name of Applicant Group:  Mayfield Hinds Irrigation Limited
Contact Person: Hamish Tait
Address: PO Box 278, Ashburton 7740
Telephone: 03 307 8389

Project details

Status: In progress
CIF funding: $137,500 excl. GST
Proposed start date: 1 December 2010
Proposed finish date: 30 June 2012
Region: Canterbury
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Project description

The Mayfield Hinds Irrigation Scheme currently irrigates 32,000 hectares within the Ashburton District and sources water from the Rangitata (94%) and Ashburton (6%) Rivers. The Scheme is supplied with up to 16.65 cubic metres per second of water from the RDR canal, which runs between the Rangitata River and the Rakaia River. Water is supplied to the Scheme via an off-take from the RDR canal and distributed to shareholders via an open race network.

Shareholders originally used water for border dyke irrigation, although the majority of shareholders now utilise spray irrigation, and use storage ponds to manage their water allocation.  MHIL plans to pipe the entire existing scheme area, primarily to improve efficiency of water use.

The issue/opportunity

There are a number of opportunities apparent from this project:

  • Piping the scheme will reduce the overall water losses attributable to the open race network, currently estimated at 20% (3.5 cubic metres per second).
  • The existing scheme is run-of-river, with the only storage currently being on-farm. The amount of on-farm storage affects how reliable individual operations are. By piping the Scheme, water will be supplied on-demand and will allow existing on-farm operational storage ponds to be used as bulk storage and so will mitigate restrictions and improve reliability.
  • Piping the scheme will improve the energy efficiency of shareholders, who will be supplied with water under pressure and have will not have to use on-farm booster pumps to operate irrigators.

The context/background

In addition to the opportunities stated above, the project offers a number of wider community benefits:

  • MHIL will use the water saved by piping the scheme to expand the scheme area into dryland areas (increasing the total scheme area to around 38,500 ha).  This will bring significant benefits to these dryland farmers, who will generate more revenue and employ more staff.
  • A number of MHIL shareholders have groundwater wells and resource consents to take water from those wells to supplement their irrigation needs. Providing water under pressure and on-demand will reduce the annual volume of water abstracted from the aquifer.  Less water taken from the aquifer is likely to result in improved access to groundwater for down-gradient well owners.
  • The proposal to pipe the Scheme is consistent with Ngai Tahu’s Freshwater Policy Statement 2000 (Strategy 20), which details a preference for efficient irrigation.
  • Scheme piping is consistent with the Canterbury Water Management Strategy


A Feasibility Study for the piping scheme has already been completed by Beca Infrastructure Ltd (Beca) on behalf of MHIL.

Following completion of a survey of current and potential future shareholders, where expected uptake and staging requirements will be considered, Beca will develop the feasibility study into a Preliminary Design where 2 or 3 options for the scheme layout will be prepared and evaluated.

Input from suitably qualified contractors will be sought, such that constructability and risk items can be considered early in the process for maximum benefit.

Detailed design of the selected scheme will be completed, and construction contracts let for the physical works.

It is anticipated that the detailed design work will be complete by early 2012.

Project Update:  June 2013

The project focus has been on establishing a relationship with a Contractor to take the design through to a construction phase and continuing engagement with Shareholders. A competitive tendering process has been undertaken to select a preferred design and construct contractor. Nine contractors were given the opportunity to price a Specimen Design with a focus on providing a comparable priced option but also demonstrating ability to innovate. MHIL are looking for a quality installation while ensuring on time delivery and minimizing disruption to stakeholders.

In May, Fulton Hogan was selected as the preferred contractor. Subsequently the innovations suggested have been explored and will continue to be refined, aiming to achieve a cost effective solution. In July a Shareholder presentation was made, to update progress and engage with Farmers as to why we were investigating piping, reinforcing the benefits and describing a programme to go forward on.

MHIL have been closely involved in the nutrient limit setting process currently being rolled out in our community by our local Zone Committee and Ecan. While the importance of achieving good environmental outcomes is very important, we are extremely concerned that this project could be impaired or halted as a result of current unrealistic proposals. The limits currently being proposed are outside that which even many of our 'best practice' farmers can achieve. We question the science involved and the attempt to achieve outcomes which are not reflective of our environment's true 'natural state'. The limits currently proposed make our piping project uneconomic in the growth areas that we rely on to make this project a success and we would ask for any assistance that you may be able to provide in resolving this.

In parallel to the piping project, a project to investigate hydro generation opportunities has been running. It has now become apparent that the design of the piped scheme will interact with hydro generation in the future. It is important that each project doesn't jeopardise the other. For this reason we are looking to include further studies on how these projects interact before confirming the piping design.

Project Update:  February 2013

The Preliminary design was completed by Beca in 2012. Early Contractor involvement was signalled as the next step in bringing further innovation to the design.

The MHIL Board approved a 2 stage tender process for a Design and Construct project. 11 selected Contractors were approached to establish their interest in tendering for the project. Following the Expression of Interest, 9 contractors were selected to compete in a stage 1 tender, pricing a specimen design with the opportunity to present nonconforming tenders also. This will lead to 1 or more Contractors being selected to refine the design and compete in a stage 2 tender.

Consideration of the community values of the project continues including engagement with the Ashburton District Council. Discussions with suppliers continue.

Shareholder consultation will be a focus once the tender documents are received and the scope of the project becomes better defined. A clear business case is essential in promoting the project to all stakeholders including financiers.

Project Update:  October 2012

The Preliminary Design Report has been reviewed and some further refinements made.

Continuing to establish the preferred procurement model and commence preparation of the tender documents as well as advancing design work. Reviewing the project in context of other existing and proposed strategic infrastructure in the MHIL scheme.

Project Update:  June 2012

Our team has advanced the design for the piped reticulation of the scheme, culminating in a Preliminary Design Report. The process included identifying performance criteria, areas for scheme expansion and identifying preferred conveyance methods. A design with 9 ‘pressure zones’ is favoured using a combination of existing open races and new pipelines.

Pipe intake structures have been designed along with screens, valve selections and a preliminary controls design. Buffer storage is necessary to accommodate the hybrid pipe / open race network. In some instances existing scheme and private ponds can be used while a number of new buffer ponds will need to be constructed. Crossing of the Main Trunk Railway and State Highway 1 has been investigated. We continue communicating with potential contractors and equipment suppliers. Their input to the design process is invaluable.

A round of shareholder consultation is proposed addressing the Preliminary design and cost estimates. Confidence around the affordability of the project is essential in achieving the necessary buy in from Shareholders and permitting the advancement to the detailed design phase. Location of intake ponds and pipelines is a critical element of the whole design. This will lead into a Registration of Interest process to establish preferred contractors.

Project Update: February 2012

The project has commenced the design phase in earnest. Delivery volumes have been agreed and the network command area identified. This includes the existing Mayfield Hinds Scheme as well as the 2 growth areas to the east and west of the schemes.

Regular project team meetings are to occur in the Network Refinement phase, leading up to identification and engagement of a Contractor by July 2012. Early communication with potential contractors will encourage efficient system design.

The project is being treated as a complete system design, however logical staging paths are being considered in the design. The MHIL team are keeping a close watch on other piping projects being promoted in the region.

Project Update: October 2011

Following the positive response in our existing Farmer Shareholder survey, we have been working on establishing support for expanding the scheme through meeting with farmers in identified growth areas. This is an important element in the ability to proceed with the piping project. Capital raising through the allocation of water into new area will assist in financing the development.

While continuing to develop support for the project and planning the piping layout, we have commenced investigation into generation opportunities that might be achieved within the scheme. Simply Energy have provided an economic analysis of generation potential, estimating the value of such a venture and providing advice on options for the trading of electricity.

MHIL are focused on efficient use of water with Pressure Piping recently confirmed as an important project to pursue.

Project Update: June 2011

In the February – June 2011 period, the project has focused on consultation with farmer shareholders. A detailed Farmer survey was prepared requesting details of farm types, irrigation systems, usage patterns and energy costs. As part of the survey a farm plan was marked up identifying where irrigation systems are located and suitable positions for pipe distribution points.

We have received a very positive response from shareholders to date although further consultation and promotion of the benefits of piping is required to increase support. More accurate costing information is required before the project may progress to the detailed design stage.

The MHIL Board remain focused on efficient use of water and Pressure Piping remains a key element of the company's focus.

Project update: February 2011

The Project Team have commenced preparation of the Design Definition Report but are presently in an information gathering phase. MHIL board are to approve final format of survey.

With the Earthquake, resources at Beca have been diverted to other activities and staff relocated.

We have been in discussion with other irrigation schemes and continue dialogue with prospective ECI contractors.

In summary we approximate that the programme has been pushed back by 2-3 months to ensure the correct information is surveyed and the design definition report prepared to reflect this and other design criteria.


Last Updated: 13 August 2013

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