Irrigators to decide on upgrade

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Waitaki Irrigators’ Collective Policy Manager, Elizabeth Soal, presented the results of the Lower Waitaki South Bank irrigation study to the Waitaki District Council on Monday.

The study was commissioned by the collective to provide options around infrastructure development, management and irrigation impacts for the south bank of the Waitaki (between the Waitaki Dam and Black Point).

The study area covered three of the Waitaki Irrigators’ Collective shareholders – the Kurow-Duntroon Irrigation Company, the Maerewhenua District Water Resource Company and the Waitaki Independent Irrigators’ Incorporated Society.

The South Bank study assesses the options around upgrading and integrating the Kurow and Maerewhenua schemes so that they operate as a single main race system, an idea which was initially investigated by Meridian Energy Limited due to their proposed North Bank Hydroelectricity development. This development has since been suspended.

The two companies currently irrigate nearly 5000 hectares between them.

The report concludes that two options are available to the groups involved. The first option includes rehabilitating the existing delivery system which will involve an open channel race system based on a 14-day roster, lining the race network and constructing three holding ponds. Initial capital cost per hectare would be $5,300 and ongoing annual costs per hectare per year (Year 1) would be $391.

The second option involves replacing the existing delivery system with a piped system. This would provide water on demand 24/7. Initial capital cost per hectare for this option would be $7600 and ongoing annual costs/ha/yr (Year 1) would be $429.

Ms Soal told councillors that the study had been met with mixed reaction by stakeholders.

“There are significant financial implications – we need to asses demand fully and then we will be in a better position to make an overall assessment,” she said.

By LINDA MCCARTHY