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Meridian, S Canterbury Irrigation Trust proposal

Media release
Wednesday, 12 April 2006

Meridian and South Canterbury Irrigation Trust proposal for South Canterbury

Meridian Energy and the South Canterbury Irrigation Trust have today announced a major sustainable irrigation initiative for South Canterbury.

“We are very pleased to be able to announce the Hunter Downs Irrigation scheme initiative with Meridian Energy which we believe has the potential to transform the South Canterbury district, from Waihao to as far north to Otipua, and which could drive regional economic growth for many years to come,” says Don McFarlane, Chairman of the South Canterbury Irrigation Trust (a collaboration between Timaru, Waimate, and Mackenzie District Councils).

Meridian Energy’s Chief Executive Keith Turner says Meridian is supporting the Hunter Downs Irrigation proposal because of the huge benefits that sustainable irrigation can provide to local communities as well as to the country as a whole.

“Meridian Energy already manages huge volumes of water as part of its hydro-electric schemes. Getting involved in irrigation development makes sense because of the synergies between hydro and irrigation, and the commercial opportunities that irrigation presents,” says Dr Turner.

The Hunter Downs Irrigation scheme would potentially irrigate up to 40,000 hectares out of a total command area of 60,000 hectares. Water would be sourced from the lower Waitaki River and transported through a system of pumping stations, pipes and canals.

Don McFarlane says Hunter Downs Irrigation is now consulting with the local community on the first stage of the proposed scheme.

The first stage is to apply for resource consents for water and the intake works for the use of a peak flow of 20.5 cubic metres a second from the Waitaki River. The initial first stage consents would relate to an intake structure, a pumphouse a divert from the Waitaki River, works in the river-bed, and discharge of water into a canal.

“These consents would comply with the Waitaki Catchment Regional Plan allocation volume in the lower Waitaki River,” says Don McFarlane, “except we will be asking for a lower minimum flow of 100 cubic metres a second at the Waitaki River mouth to improve the irrigation proposal reliability.

“The proposed Hunter Downs Irrigation proposal would also meet all of the environmental and regulatory requirements of Environment Canterbury’s proposed Natural Resources Regional Plan.”

If these first stage resource consents were granted, Hunter Downs Irrigation would then carry out detailed design work to confirm the best route for canals and pipes, the command area, as well as investigate the cost of delivering water to the farmgate.


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