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Irrigators' commitment to water management

November 10 2010


News Release – NOTE: Media Embargo 10am (November 10th)

Irrigators demonstrate commitment to water management

Water measurement is consistent with the future direction of the irrigation industry. As from November 10, 2010, national regulation will involve some on-farm changes, and consequently additional costs, for many farmers
In order to optimise water management in New Zealand, water measuring and reporting of water takes is an essential part of the equation. Quite simply – you can’t manage water if you don’t measure it, says IrrigationNZ (INZ) chief executive Andrews Curtis.

INZ has supported the approval of the national regulation requiring water takes to be measured as part of a wider programme to improve fresh water management and in doing so encourages all irrigators to set themselves up to comply sooner, rather than later.

As part of its commitment to ensure optimal water management, INZ has proactively led the water measuring working party since its inception.

The national regulation comes into force today (November 10) and INZ anticipates a significant logistical challenge in meeting the mandatory timeframes if irrigators don’t keep on the ball.

“We just hope there will be some discretion in terms of meeting compliance timeframes, as given the number of water meters to be installed it’s looking pretty tight.”

In Canterbury alone, water meters will need to be installed at a rate of over 160 per month over the next two years to meet compliance timeframes.

In reality this jumps up to over 300 per month as the irrigation season takes up five to six months of the year, effectively many irrigators will have just 12 months of down time to practically get their systems compliant with the new regulation.

“Obviously this measuring regulation already comes with a significant installation and operation cost to irrigator’s, so they won’t want to be losing income through having their irrigation systems down for meter installation, this effectively leaves a twelve-month timeframe to get meters installed,” Curtis said.

“This considerable cost to irrigators also demonstrates the irrigation industry’s commitment to better water resource management and this needs recognising by all stakeholders.”

INZ expressed concern in regard to the supply of sufficient meters to meet demand if irrigators don’t get organised early, encouraging irrigators to get on the case now.

“Don’t delay and leave it to the last minute as this will create a nightmare in respect to supply and create further challenges in terms of installation compliance within the timeframes,” Curtis said.

INZ, in partnership with MfE, MAF and key stakeholders from the Water Measurement Taskforce, has led the development of an implementation package to run alongside the regulations. The aim of this is to give irrigators certainty around the water meter installation, verification and data provision. The package includes industry guidelines and a quality assurance program - an accreditation program for water meter service providers. This will ensure quality and consistent water measurement throughout NZ, driving cost efficiencies and giving certainty as to the accuracy of water measurement and therefore future water management in NZ.

Included in the industry guidelines has been the establishment of a system to register service providers of water metering services. This builds on the Environment Canterbury Water Meter Request for Proposals Panel (RFP) processes.

The RFP process provides guidance and sets standards for the water measuring industry. To date around 50 providers have been approved. The RFP process is about ensuring water measuring suppliers are providing and installing equipment and systems which are accurate, reliable and cost effective for irrigators and other water users. The Hawke’s Bay Regional Councils also runs a similar process.

While the Hawke’s Bay and Canterbury regional council’s already have accredited service providers, that will now transition across to the national system, there will be a call over the next two weeks for service providers in other regions to become accredited in the new national scheme.

Irrigators and water users can learn more about water measuring, its challenges and opportunities, with a visit to: www.irrigationnz.co.nz
ends

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