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Study on Tekapo transfer concept released

Study on Tekapo transfer concept released by Environment Canterbury

A study on the concept of transferring water for environmental and irrigation use from Lake Tekapo, via Burkes Pass to South Canterbury, has been released by Environment Canterbury.

“The report is part of a wider consideration of water options for South Canterbury which are being progressed as part of the Canterbury Water Management Strategy,” said David Caygill, the Environment Canterbury Commissioner with particular responsibility for water.

The report takes into account the more than100 years of previous work on the potential transfer of water from Lake Tekapo via Burkes Pass to South Canterbury. It also attempts to identify concepts that would avoid directly mixing the alpine waters from Lake Tekapo with South Canterbury rivers. These concepts could potentially answer the existing water quality and cultural challenges.

“The report will provide water management zone committees with the information they need to make comparisons between the Tekapo concepts and other ideas and proposals for bringing water into the relatively water-short South Canterbury region.

“While the report primarily looks at the economic costs and impacts of the Tekapo transfer concepts, it also takes into account environmental and cultural values that are central to the Canterbury Water Management Strategy.”

The report notes that cultural and environmental aspects are closely interlinked and that a cultural impact assessment, along with additional scientific studies, should be commissioned if there is to be further work on the Tekapo transfer concepts.

The economic analysis in the report also allows for the lost generation from the existing Waitaki hydroelectric scheme, any potential generation from the transfer scheme, as well as the benefit from additional or more reliable irrigation in the South Canterbury region.

The report looked at two Tekapo transfer concepts:
· A 2 cumec (cubic metre per second) year-round transfer which would support 11,550ha of irrigated land;

· A 10 cumec seasonal transfer, which would provide for 25,000ha of irrigated land.

The economic analysis shows that neither concept would produce a net economic benefit, or would be affordable for any likely land use, based on the various assumptions made.

Concept 1 (2 cumecs), for a dairy farm, would result in an estimated loss of $2430 per hectare and would require capital input of $64,228 per hectare. Concept 1 construction costs were estimated between $264 million and $382 million (equivalent to $22,918-$33,103/ha).

Concept 2 (10 cumecs), also for a dairy farm, would result in an estimated loss of $1857 per hectare with a capital input of $59,530 per hectare. Construction costs for concept 2 were estimated between $478 million and $691 million (equivalent to $19,152-$27,664/ha).

“While the report shows neither of the Tekapo transfer concepts appear to be economically viable, it provides a comprehensive suite of information useful as a resource to inform further work and ongoing discussions at the Canterbury Water Management Strategy committees,” said David Caygill.


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