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Report highlights progress on better water use data

27 January 2013

Environment Canterbury has released the Canterbury Region Water Use Report (2012/13) which compares the consented and actual amounts of fresh water used in Canterbury for the year ended 30 June 2013.

The report highlights the current ability to report on regional water use and comments on the actual water data that has been provided from 2800 groundwater and surface water takes.

David Caygill, Environment Canterbury’s Commissioner with responsibility for water, said the increased number of measured water takes shows consented water users are making good progress in providing the data required to better understand water use.

“Since the previous water year many more farmers have installed water measuring devices, as required by the National Water Measuring regulations.

“We are continuing to work with farmers and the agribusiness sector to develop and promote best management practices for water use, which includes accurate and reliable measurement.

“Having accurate and timely water data is a vital part of efficient water management – you simply can’t manage what you don’t know.

“Many farmers are telling us they are using water-use information to make more efficient use of the resource on their properties. This also helps them save time and money, and ultimately provides for better water management in the region.

“The report also helps to measure progress on water use efficiency, which is one of the target areas under the collaborative Canterbury Water Management Strategy.

“The Strategy sets a goal that by 2015 we are able to measure, benchmark and report on the efficiency of water used for irrigation, community takes and stock water.”

“The second part of the 2015 goal is that 60% of water used for irrigation is managed with a best-practice approach.”

Marked differences in water use between zones

ArcMap, a geographic information system (GIS) application, was used to organise takes by location to determine the proportion of allocated water used during the 2012/13 water year.

There are marked differences in actual water use throughout the ten water management zones in Canterbury. The demand for water varies for a number of reasons including land use, soil type, plant type, irrigation method, water availability and climate.

During the irrigation season the rate of application on farm also varies depending on a number of variables such as soil type, plant type, evapotranspiration rate (ET)[1], and the capability of the irrigation system that is used[2].

If a farm manager understands these variables, the right amount of water can be applied at the right time to ensure the crop or pasture is not stressed, particularly during critical growth stages.

Progress on installing water measuring devices

Under the Government’s National Regulations water takes of 20 l/s and more were required to have a water measurement device and reporting system installed by 10 November 2012.

A number of consent holders – who are not currently using their consents – have applied to have them suspended. When Environment Canterbury agrees to suspend a consent this removes the need for the consent holder to install a water measuring system until the consent is reactivated.

By 30 June 2013 (the end of the 2012/13 water year) 73.7% of groundwater takes and 55.3% of surface water takes of 20 l/s and more were measured. In the previous water year it was 58.3% and 33.8%.

All consent holders with a take between 10 and 20 l/s are required to install a water measuring device by November 2014 to comply with this government regulation.

For a copy of the 2012/13 Water Use Report visit: www.ecan.govt.nz/advice/your-water/water-metering/Pages/water-use-report.aspx

ENDS

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