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Canterbury gets support for Water Strategy

Hon Jim Anderton Industry and Regional Development Minister Hon Jim Sutton Agriculture Minister

22 March 2005

Canterbury gets support for Water Strategy development

“Canterbury water consumers are one step closer to having more certainty in their water supply through the collaboration of local agencies and central government,” Jim Anderton, Minister for Economic Development and Jim Sutton Minister of Agriculture, announced today on World Water Day.

A grant of $300,000 from the Ministry of Economic Development’s Regional Initiatives Fund has been provided to Environment Canterbury, on behalf of the Canterbury Mayoral Forum, to contribute towards the cost of undertaking a community consultation process around potential water storage facilities.

“As the local MP for Canterbury, I am well aware of the critical issues facing water resources in the region, and recognise the economic importance to the wider area of ensuring greater security of supply for all water users.

"Increasing demand for water from residential, business and agricultural consumers has been identified as a critical constraint on the future development of the Canterbury region. Climate change could also limit rainfall and increase evaporation, Jim Anderton said.

The Canterbury Mayoral Forum has identified building water storage facilities as the best solution to the constraint on water. These will be filled during wet periods to supplement flows in dry periods. There are significant economic benefits to be gained from the development of such facilities, including an estimated $330 million annual increase in farm-gate productivity through new irrigation initiatives.

The four-stage strategic water study began in 2000, and funding has been granted for Stage III of the project, which will see the establishment of a steering group and community panel to determine the specific nature of the water storage facility to be developed in Stage IV.

"Community involvement and participation is to be sought over the next two years through public meetings with the community, interest groups and Maori. This will give Canterbury residents the opportunity to participate in finding a solution to the critical water supply issues faced by the region," Jim Anderton said.

Agriculture Minister Jim Sutton said water was a criticial issue in Canterbury, particularly in South Canterbury.

"Water storage has a lot of potential in Canterbury, and it's important that this be looked at properly."

Mr Sutton said work on water quality and water allocation had been disjointed in the past, but now it was becoming more co-ordinated, as people realised the importance of doing this work comprehensively.

"For example, I hope we can do something for the Hakataramea Valley, which stands to have $10s of millions worth of productive values of farms gone within three years if the Waitaki water allocation board's draft proposals are adopted," Jim Sutton said.

Other benefits of the Canterbury Strategic Water Plan include the creation of a nationally applicable methodology and process for water resource development. The development of a best practice model is a useful pilot project, which could be applied in other regions facing similar resource development issues.

ENDS


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