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Water report shows efficient water use despite dry spell

Water report shows efficient water use despite dry spell

Today’s water use report from Environment Canterbury unsurprisingly shows irrigators used more water during last year’s dry spell than the previous wet summer. However the increase wasn’t as large as might have been expected in a season that bordered on drought, says IrrigationNZ.

“The data actually reinforces the changes we’re seeing as new technologies and improved practice lead to more targeted water application. Irrigators don’t pump water out of the ground because they can as pumping costs them money. There is an efficiency driver and most farmers are already responsible water managers,” says IrrigationNZ CEO Andrew Curtis.

Water use data for the 1 July 2012 to 30 June 2013 year shows between 13.91% and 65.1% of allocated surface and groundwater across Canterbury was taken for irrigation. Water use was heaviest in the Orari-Opihi-Pareora, Ashburton and Selwyn-Waihora Zones which correlates with significant irrigation activity in those areas.

A change in the way Environment Canterbury analyses and presents water use does mean the data should be treated as ‘indicative-only’, says Mr Curtis.

“This report contains data from less than 40% of consented water takes with rates five litres per second and greater. Since June last year, hundreds more farmers across the region have installed water metering systems so next year’s report and those that follow will be significantly more accurate. In the next couple of years we’ll have a much better picture of true water use based on farmers’ actual water use.”

Mr Curtis says despite a lower than expected water use increase, there is still plenty irrigators can do to improve their management of water.

“IrrigationNZ will roll out our SMART irrigation programme this year to support farmers in keeping up with the technologies, skills and management systems necessary to drive water efficient irrigation. We’ll also continue to talk to central and regional government about the allocation and transfer system for water takes. These need to be dynamic if we are to drive the best possible return to the community from New Zealand’s natural resources.”


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