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Storage scheme of pressurised irrigation water to farm gate

21 February 2014

Pressurised irrigation water to the farm gate with Ruataniwha Water Storage Scheme

Irrigation water available to farmers using the Ruataniwha Water Storage Scheme will be delivered to their farm gates ‘under pressure’; potentially saving each operator significant costs in on-farm infrastructure and energy costs.

The news comes as negotiations continue to move forward with joint venture OHL-Hawkins, the RWSS preferred consortia.European Contractor, Obrascon Huarte Lain (OHL) and Hawkins Infrastructure, New Zealand’s largest privately-owned construction company have joined forces for the project.

RWSS Project Manager Graeme Hansen says being able to deliver the water closer to the farm gate than initially planned and providing it ‘under pressure’ is great news for farmers and part of the ongoing ‘optimisation’ of the scheme that has continued through the design phase negotiations.

With many aspects of the scheme design now being finalised, all the financial modeling is assuming a ‘take or pay’ water price of 23 cents per cubic metre - which is within the 22-25 cents per cubic metre price outlined in the feasibility phase. There will be an additional variable energy charge at a maximum of 3 cents per cubic metre, which is only payable on actual water used in any given season. This pressurisation will minimise, and in most instances, eliminate the need for on-farm pumping infrastructure or energy costs.

Mr Hansen says through the negotiation phase there has also been optimisation and refinements of the reservoir and distribution system, which means the scheme can now reliably distribute 104 million m3 of water per year to the irrigation footprint, an improvement on the feasibility figure of 90 million cubic metres per year.

“Using its extensive expertise in dam construction, OHL-Hawkins has been able to create a significantly more comprehensive scheme, which offers additional value while still remaining within the range of the feasibility report cost estimates.”

Mr Hansen says further contractual discussions will continue with OHL-Hawkins through to financial close in late June, however current negotiations are in a very strong position.

OHL-Hawkins Joint Venture Bid Manager Steve Livesay says they are exceptionally proud to be involved in such a challenging and interesting project, particularly one that will mean so much to the Hawke’s Bay region.

“Our solution includes a dam designed by world experts from New Zealand, Australia and Spain, and an irrigation scheme harnessing all the best elements of recent Canterbury and Australian experience to provide the water users with an optimal cost and service level,” says Mr Livesay.

“We are conscious of the sensitivities of the Scheme and confident that we can provide a positive impact for the community once we’re underway and are very hopeful the remaining regulatory hurdles can be overcome.”

Meanwhile the Board of Inquiry - set up by the Environmental Protection Authority to hear evidence and submissions on Tukituki Plan Change 6 and RWSS resource consents - will deliver its draft decision no later than 15th April, before releasing a final decision by 28th May.

The Ruataniwha Water Storage Scheme has the potential to supply secure water for irrigated farming and horticultural uses to 25,000-30,000 hectares of land for farming, while improving the water quality and summer flows in the Tukituki River. If given approval, and once operational, the scheme is expected to create around 2,250 new jobs throughout Hawke’s Bay.

ENDS

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