The tap has been turned on for the trial recharge in the Makauri Aquifer, a project led by Gisborne District Council.
The Makauri Aquifer has had declining water levels for decades. The aim of the trial is to see if it's possible to use Managed Aquifer Recharge (MAR) technology by injecting water from the Waipaoa River into the aquifer to increase the water levels and sustain water availability on the Poverty Bay Flats.
"Today we welcomed Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy to turn the tap on to signal the start of the trial here in Gisborne," says Gisborne District Mayor Meng Foon.
"The aquifer is important to tangata whenua, the community and local industry supplying nearly a third of all irrigation water to producers on the Poverty Bay Flats."
"Irrigated crops are estimated to be of $20m value, and reducing or stopping irrigation would have a significant impact on the local economy."
"The trial is important in protecting water levels in the aquifer, the mauri (life force) and as a potential tool for water management and sustainability."
Ministry for Primary Industries' Deputy Director Sector Partnerships and Programmes, Ben Dalton says government support of recharge trials like this is essential for the livelihoods of regional communities, and in turn the New Zealand economy.
"We've committed $250,000 to this trial through the MPI Irrigation Acceleration Fund as this project meets our criteria which considers environmental, cultural, social, recreation and economic benefits."
"Modern water infrastructure encourages better use of water, and a better environment as those irrigators who have access to it have a collective responsibility to monitor and limit water use, nutrient applications and run-off to meet consent obligations," says Mr Dalton.
The Irrigation Acceleration Fund is one of the mechanisms MPI uses to support sustainable primary sector growth in the regions, to help achieve their goal of doubling the value of primary industry exports by 2025.
The trial has also been supported by the Gisborne District Council (around $230,000) and the Eastland Community Trust ($200,000).