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Project Aqua effect on soils kept to a minimum

Project Aqua effect on soils kept to a minimum: Meridian Energy

Operation of the Project Aqua scheme would only affect a small proportion of the high-class soils in the lower Waitaki valley, as defined and identified by the Otago Regional Council and the Waitaki District Council.

“Only 4 percent, or 326 hectares, of the high-class soils in the lower Waitaki would be permanently lost to Project Aqua,” says Meridian Energy spokesman Alan Seay.

The construction phase of Project Aqua would affect agricultural production from about another 6 percent of the high-class soils at one time or another. These soils would be returned to productive use as soon as practicable after construction activities were completed at each site. Areas of high-class soils underneath the actual canal alignment would be moved, where possible, to enhance the soil quality of nearby areas that may have been affected by construction activities. Irrigation is also expected to provide a major boost to the productive capacity of the district, which would more than offset the loss of productive land as a result of Project Aqua.

Stages 1 and 2 of a proposed scheme to irrigate up to 20,000 hectares of North Otago land are going ahead independently of Project Aqua. Meridian Energy is currently proposing to provide the primary infrastructure to pump water to a headpond at a level of 240m near the Georgetown - Ngapara Road. Downlands irrigation company would then handle the secondary distribution and infrastructure.

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