Government funding for Canterbury Irrigation Development

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Canterbury’s Hurunui District is one step closer to sustainable irrigation development, after receiving $2.4 million as part of the Ministry for Primary Industries’ (MPI) Irrigation Acceleration Fund (IAF).

The IAF funding has been awarded to irrigation company Hurunui Water Project (WHP). The company will use the funding in the initial feasibility work of its Waitohi Irrigation and Hydro Scheme (WIHS), to irrigate the plains and valleys in the Hurunui and Waipara Rivers. HWP aims to accomplish this through four storage reservoirs.

“The scheme will carry out drilling tests at potential storage sites in the Waitohi River Valley to identify any issues in constructing the proposed dams. It will also do some initial planning and community consultation on the most viable and sensible arrangement of storage and canals,” says Hurunui Water Project CEO David Viles.

“The IAF funding will support the HWP in formulating the best options for the final design of the WIHS, generate farmer support, and ensure that the scheme can meet water quality requirements,” says Mr Viles.

The IAF provides for $35 million over five years to support the development of smart irrigation infrastructure proposals to the investment-ready prospectus stage.

“Water is a critical determinant of productivity for Agriculture which is New Zealand’s largest export earner,” says Kevin Steel, MPI Irrigation Acceleration Fund Manager.

“Unlocking reliable water through well designed water storage and off-farm irrigation infrastructure is crucial to improved water management options for rivers, lakes and aquifers,” says Mr Steel.

The Scheme is the first project to emerge from the Canterbury Water Management Strategy (CWMS). If this first work programme shows the dams are constructible, further investment will be required to take the scheme to full feasibility stages. 

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