With irrigation season underway Environment Canterbury is reminding irrigators to be aware of where their water is going and irrigate the grass – not the road.
Environment Canterbury Ashburton Zone Manager Janine Holland said nearly 20 complaints have been received in the last few weeks from local people, so irrigators need to adjust their aim.
“Irrigation onto roads, particularly gravel roads, is not only a waste of water but also has the potential to create safety issues for motorists. It is the surprise element and the force of the water that could easily startle a motorist.
“Our Ashburton team has been receiving an increasing number of calls and our locally based water zone officers have been responding to these on a case-by-case basis.
“Irrigation consent holders are responsible for the use of water that is applied to their properties, and while it can be difficult on windy days, irrigators must monitor the use of their water and operate within the conditions of their consent,” Janine said.
Ashburton District Council Roading Manager Brian Fauth says irrigation water can cause significant damage to roading infrastructure.
“From a structural perspective, water is a road’s worst enemy. Irrigation watering the road can damage the underlying structure of our rural roads, particularly unsealed ones.
“When you consider the time and money that has gone into repairing flood-damaged roads from the heavy rain events we’ve had in 2017, it is concerning that there are some irrigators that are needlessly putting water on the roads and contributing to that damage,” Brian said.
Irrigation New Zealand chief executive Andrew Curtis said the two main culprits for water going over-boundary were the end guns on pivot irrigators and travelling irrigators set up too close to roads.
“Watering onto roads creates a significant safety hazard, so it’s really important for irrigators to ensure they water within their property boundaries.
“My advice is to ensure end guns are set and operating correctly and regularly checked. When you set up your travelling irrigator always have a set-back distance from the road.
“Aside from the safety issue, people don’t like seeing water being wasted by being sprayed onto roads. Farmers who irrigate do so under strict regulatory regimes so it’s important they justify their use of water by being efficient and responsible with it,” Andrew said.
Anyone experiencing spray on the road that is clearly coming from an irrigation system should contact Environment Canterbury on 0800 324 636. If there is immediate danger to road users they should contact the police.
Source: Environment Canterbury