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Irrigators launch pond and water craft for community use

Media Statement

25 February 2014 – for immediate release

Irrigators launch pond and water craft for community use

Imagine having key access to a private waterway in North Otago with a suite of yachts, kayaks and paddleboards stored on-site for year-round use. It’s not the lifestyles of the rich and famous, but an exciting initiative by a group of Oamaru irrigators aspiring to improve town-country relations.

The farmers, all shareholders of the Lower Waitaki Irrigation Company, will publicly launch their five hectare irrigation pond for community recreational use this Saturday (1 March). Members of the public are invited to attend from 10am to 4pm on Ferry Road, five kilometres from Oamaru.

For just $50 a year, North Otago residents can join a newly created trust, the Lower Waitaki Water Sports Trust, to gain year-round access to the private pond for sailing, boating and kayaking.

What makes this project so unique - is that as well as the private waterway - a range of watercraft and on-site facilities are available making water sports truly accessible to anyone in North Otago.

Trust Chairman Richard Willans says while the lake was built for irrigation storage, its proximity to Oamaru, main road location and un-impeded views make it a perfect beginner’s recreation lake. 

“It’s the safest place to get out and learn on. You can see the whole pond from any point as it’s so flat.”

Ironically, most of the irrigators involved have no boating experience and have taken advice from local sailors, boaties and kayakers to set up the pond.

The project has cost more than $150,000 with the trust sourcing funding from the irrigation company, local businesses, Meridian Waitaki Community Fund, Waitaki District Council and the Otago Community Trust. 

On-site for community use are 10 yachts, 15 kayaks and two paddleboards housed in an A4 bay shed.  Water safety measures including lifejackets and a fully inflatable motorized rescue boat are also available.  The jewel in the crown on the pond is a floating jetty.

The Lower Waitaki Irrigation Company has supported the project by charging the trust a peppercorn rental for the site. Chairman Chris Dennison says the company sees the project as worthy.

“Working with the community on this joint venture produced a great outcome and it’s happened very quickly. The pond was built in late 2012 and the trust’s facilities were only finished in December,” he says.

IrrigationNZ CEO Andrew Curtis says the initiative is significant as it demonstrates how irrigation infrastructure can benefit the community in other ways.

“We take our hats off to these irrigators as they’ve not only created a new recreational lake barely minutes from Oamaru, but have invested in recreational assets that the people of North Otago will enjoy for years to come. It shows once again how community-minded irrigators are and how irrigation infrastructure can meet social and recreational needs,” he says.   

ENDS

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