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Mackenzie Water Agreement Honours Promise

News Release
1 December 2004

Mackenzie Water Agreement Honours Promise

An historic agreement over water allocation between Mackenzie Basin farmers and Meridian Energy is set to bring new opportunities to one of New Zealand’s largest areas of farmland.

More than three decades after the area’s water resource was developed for hydro generation, and after two months of intensive negotiations, representatives of the Mackenzie Basin farming community have struck a deal with Meridian Energy that will see 150 million cubic metres of water provided to up to 60 farms and stations for irrigation. This amount is in addition to the existing consents held by a few farmers.

Mackenzie Basin farmers have spearheaded a campaign to see the water promised to the community by the Government, as part of the hydro development in the late 1960’s, delivered. The farmers say Meridian Energy and farmer representatives have agreed how much water they’ll get and when it will be available. The deal will now go to the farmers for sign-off.

Local farmer Denis Fastier said the Basin is a vast area of New Zealand farmland that has had to withstand extremely dry conditions. This water will not only make farming more manageable, but it will also protect this fragile environment.

He said it was a credit to the strength of the Mackenzie Basin community that they had fought so hard to ensure the historic water commitment to them was honoured.

“This agreement will mean irrigation water for approximately 25,000 hectares of farmland. It’s an agreement about honouring a promise, which the Government made to us when the Waitaki Power Scheme was developed. Meridian Energy is to be congratulated for honouring the spirit of that promise through this agreement.”

Mr Fastier said the agreement, when combined with the recently confirmed North Otago Irrigation scheme, meant the wider region was poised for substantial economic and social growth. “As farmers, we also recognise the economic potential that irrigation holds for our South Canterbury and Waimate neighbours, and trust that a solution can be found for their needs. In particular, I am heartened by Meridian’s statements that they support irrigation in South Canterbury, and would like to work with that community to investigate the options.”

A detailed information pack on the agreement will shortly be presented to farmers. The final details of the agreement with Meridian Energy are still to be finalised and will be subject to the final approval of Mackenzie Basin farmers.

-ends –

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