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Crown Irrigation Provides Funding for OTOP Irrigation Scheme

Crown Irrigation provides funding for Orari-Temuka-Opihi-Pareora Irrigation Scheme

4 August 2017 - Crown Irrigation Investments Ltd (Crown Irrigation) has agreed development grant funding of $339,875 for the Orari-Temuka-Opihi-Pareora (OTOP) irrigation conceptual design and costing project, which Environment Canterbury (ECAN) is managing. The South Canterbury area and particularly the greater Opihi catchment has long suffered from water shortages and drought, and numerous water reticulation and supply options have been considered over the years.

ECAN in conjunction with the OTOP Zone Committee and Geraldine Water Solutions Ltd are investigating the potential for a new water supply scheme to be developed to supply the OTOP area between the Rangitata River and Opihi catchment and has requested financial assistance in the form of a grant from Crown Irrigation to assist with this work.

The project will build on the extensive amount of water related research carried out in the broader South Canterbury region over recent years, and will examine the potential viability of the scheme in terms of water availability, infrastructure options and commercial feasibility.

Irrigation in the area has been supplied through groundwater, the Opuha Scheme and more recently through the Rangitata South Irrigation Scheme. Increasing periods of low rainfall and over-allocated groundwater has reduced flows in nearby rivers as well as water supply reliability.

It is envisaged the OTOP scheme could secure supply from already consented irrigation water via water swap and supply arrangements, and to establish a storage and distribution network based on a combination of existing systems, new storage and reticulation infrastructure.

The intention is for the project, co-funded by ECAN, to identify the optimum scheme for detailed feasibility assessment.

Work carried out to date suggests that an optimally configured scheme could potentially provide supply top-up for 12,600ha and provide up to 8,700 ha of new irrigation and stock water supply where appropriate. The opportunity may also exist for water to be utilised by local authorities in the area.

Murray Gribben, Chief Executive of Crown Irrigation said: “The CIIL grant will consolidate and refine this work to identify and assess a preferred scheme design and commercial solution in sufficient detail to take forward to a detailed feasibility assessment, or if deemed appropriate provide an alternate solution for further detailed feasibility assessment”.

“Whatever the outcome, the proposed scheme is seen as critical to future proofing the economic potential of the area, in terms of both the reliability of existing supply and the creation of new capacity,” Mr Gribben said.

Dr Brett Painter, Project Leader for ECAN said: “The local community have made it clear through the OTOP Zone Committee-led Healthy Catchments Project that they expect improved river flows and improved water quality. This can be achieved through reducing groundwater takes and replacing lost supply with highly reliable surface water. Good nutrient management requires high supply reliability.”

The schemes development is in line with Crown Irrigation’s mandate, to target optimally sized and future-proofed projects. When delivered the OTOP project is expected to provide a reliable water supply for farms and communities and provide much greater resilience for the South Canterbury region.

“We are looking forward to working alongside ECAN to help deliver the best solution for the area,” Mr Gribben said.

Crown Irrigation provides both development funding and construction capital to irrigation schemes across New Zealand. The development funding helps support (through matched funding) the development of irrigation infrastructure proposals to the stage where they are ready for construction, which means they must be commercially robust and demonstrate a high level of community support.


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