IrrigationNZ says the announcement by irrigation scheme Hunter Downs that the scheme won’t be proceeding is a lost opportunity for South Canterbury. The scheme has received over $4 million in investment to this point.
“The scheme had the potential to significantly boost the Waimate economy, create jobs, improve people’s standard of living and help resolve water quality problems,” says Andrew Curtis, Chief Executive of IrrigationNZ. "It’s disappointing that a scheme with wide reaching community benefits won’t proceed."
“Much of Environment Canterbury’s plans for improving water quality in the South Canterbury coastal area rely on the development of the irrigation scheme to reduce pressure on groundwater and augment the Lake Wainono Lagoon. Hunter Downs still wants to use its consent to augment the Lake Wainono Lagoon, but the other environmental impacts of the scheme not proceeding will need to be worked through.”
"While farmers benefit from irrigation development, so do local communities. Irrigation projects are difficult to get off the ground if farmers are the sole funders of major infrastructure projects. There have now been numerous studies completed of New Zealand irrigation schemes and all demonstrate that irrigation have significant benefits for local communities and create substantial new tax income for the government,” says Mr Curtis.
“Other countries are increasing their investment in water storage to recognise that their communities and economies need access to a secure water supply in a changing climate. New Zealand needs to keep making similar investments to future-proof our water resources and food production, and secure our export income.”