Irrigation scheme given funding boost

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By Robyn Bristow

Crown Irrigation Investments has brought some good news to the Hurunui district as many struggle to cope with the after shocks from last Monday’s 7.8 magnitude earthquake.

It announced today it will invest up to $3.4 million in the Hurunui Water Project (HWP), an irrigation scheme capable of irrigating up to 21,000 hectares on the south side of the Hurunui River in North Canterbury.

The scheme infrastructure includes water intakes from the Hurunui and Waitohi rivers, with both on plain and dam storage, and a pressurised piped distribution system. The project is estimated to cost about $200 million.

HWP chief executive officer Alex Adams says the contribution is a very important step for the scheme.

“It supplements the recent shareholder loan that was so well subscribed and gives us the backing we need to proceed with the next development phases. Our shareholders really need this scheme and although they are seeking a lower irrigation density scheme, it will make a real difference to the community’s resilience,” he says.

The funding has been allocated in two phases – $1.8m being applied to the feasibility phase and a further $1.6m for the project commitment phase when the project is proven to be commercially viable.

“The Hurunui Water Project scheme was one of the first to include the modern era nutrient discharge rules in its consents, and has strict requirements on both the farmers and the scheme itself.
“Since September, when the shareholder loan was subscribed and Rooney Group signed up under Early Contractor Involvement conditions, we have been making progress with the necessary design work, Mr Adams says.

Murray Gribben, CEO of Crown Irrigation Investments said irrigation schemes have been proven to add significant economic and environmental benefits to local regions and the New Zealand economy in other parts of the country.

“The Hurunui Water Project will deliver significant resilience to the local Hurunui economy which has been struggling with continued droughts over recent years.
“Crown Irrigation is looking forward to working alongside the Hurunui Water Project team to bring this important project to fruition. The capital commitment demonstrates the importance of irrigation infrastructure being successfully delivered for the region,” Mr Gribben says.

Crown Irrigation Investments provides both development funding and construction capital to irrigation schemes across New Zealand. It funds and invests in irrigation schemes that have the potential to generate long-term economic benefits from irrigation for New Zealand.

Development grant funding is provided to support scheme development, and investment capital is provided alongside other partners for scheme construction.

“By assisting schemes to reach construction Crown Irrigation Investments helps harness the opportunity that irrigation provides to improve productivity in the primary sector, create jobs, increase export earnings and, ultimately, accelerate New Zealand’s economic development,” Mr Gribben says.