News and Views

Irrigation investment will strengthen hard hit province

Federated Farmers believes the investment of $3.4 million into the Hurunui Water Project by Crown Irrigation Investments will ensure the future resilience of North Canterbury.

“The announcement of the investment is welcome news for our community, which has been decimated by the most prolonged drought in New Zealand recorded history,” Federated Farmers North Canterbury provincial president Lynda Murchison says.

Those worried about whether irrigation in the Hurunui will have adverse effects on water quality can be reassured.

“The scheme has tight environmental controls and most farmers in the Hurunui are not looking to irrigation to enable land conversions.

“Farmers instead are looking for it to help support their current land uses with access to water to reduce their vulnerability to drought.

“It will also provide opportunities to improve in-stream habitat by boosting low flows when appropriate,” she says.

Funding will be allocated in two phases, with $1.8m being applied to the feasibility phase and a further $1.6m will be available for the project commitment phase when the project is proven to be commercially viable.

“It’s great to see Crown Irrigation Investment delving into the national irrigation fund to back a province,” Federated Farmers water spokesperson Chris Allen says.

“We know that investment into rural provinces has flow on effect to the national economy and so this is money well spent.”

It’s anticipated the scheme will irrigate up to 21,000 hectares on the south side of the Hurunui River in North Canterbury. The scheme will take and store water from the Hurunui and Waitohi rivers using a pressurised piped distribution system.

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