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Construction begins on Central Plains Water scheme

Hon Nathan Guy
Minister for Primary Industries

29 April 2014 Media Statement

Construction begins on Central Plains Water irrigation scheme in Canterbury

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has welcomed the official start of construction on the Central Plains Water irrigation scheme in Canterbury, which has the potential to create up to $1.4 billion in new economic activity.

“This is a proud day for the Canterbury region, with major benefits both economically and environmentally.

“When fully completed the scheme will irrigate about 60,000ha in the central Canterbury area, bounded by the Rakaia and Waimakariri Rivers, and the foothills and State Highway 1.

“It’s estimated there will be additional economic activity of between $1 billion and $1.4 billion created, an export boost of $300 million per year, and around 1,100 new fulltime equivalent jobs.

“The construction phases alone will create a further 800 jobs and $700 million of economic activity.

“A recent study by Lincoln University shows that 10% of Christchurch’s total gross economic output comes from direct expenditure on farms in Selwyn and neighbouring Waimakariri District.

“The most significant benefit to the environment is from retiring 75-80% of groundwater take consents in the scheme area. Replacing groundwater with river and stored water will improve water flows into Lake Ellesmere Te Waihora by an estimated 15-20%. This will help the long-term process of improving its water quality and recreational values.”

The Government has provided a range of kick-start funding to support this project, starting with the Irrigation Acceleration Fund which provided $5.3 million to support the investigations, design and funding stages.

Last month Crown Irrigation Investments Ltd announced $6.5 million in funding for the project, which will be the company’s first investment.

Stage 1 of the CPWL scheme will irrigate 20,000ha, 15,000ha of which is currently irrigated from deep groundwater.

Water will be sourced from the Rakaia and Waimakariri Rivers, and from storage in Lake Coleridge.

The concept of the Central Plains Water Scheme dates to the early 1900s, and farmers actively began promoting the scheme in the late 1990s.


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