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Water plan . . . A map reveals the proposed pipe networks, storage facility, and the area able to be irrigated under the Hurunui Water Project. IMAGE: SUPPLIED

 

By ROBYN BRISTOW

The Hurunui Water Project does not involve damming the Hurunui River or raising the level of Lake Sumner, its chief executive says.

Chris Pile says the project is promoting what he describes as a responsible and efficient out-of-river channel scheme. It will not flood native bush or native ecosystems, he adds.

The proposal, in collaboration with Ngai Tahu and Amuri Irrigation, is to build an on-plain storage facility on the north bank of the Hurunui River on “already disturbed” Ngai Tahu-owned farmland, Mr Pile says.

The 150-hectare storage facility, capable of holding 28 million cubic metres of water, would use an existing, upgraded intake already used by Amuri Irrigation.

The siting of the storage facility would mean if, in the “extremely unlikely” event of a dam break, there would be a significantly smaller impact than a dam failure on a river.

He says the design significantly reduces the area able to be irrigated to 21,000ha.

However, by bringing more water into the catchment would help other areas, including the water-poor Waipara zone, with more water finding its way into the groundwater.

This would be despite the efficiencies that will be demanded of farmers using the water for irrigation.

There were also some “early conversations” around how water might be supplied to the Waipara River, but this would be a discussion for the future because of cultural and other complexities, Mr Pile says.

However, there was the potential to supply the Hurunui District Council with water. That was also a decision for the future and it would be up to the council to decide if it took advantage of the opportunity.

Mr Pile says a vast majority of farmers in the irrigable are are beef and sheep farmers who want to drought-proof their properties.

“They want to shore up their farming systems, create flexibility for the future for high value crops, horticulture and viticulture,” he says.

The Amuri Irrigation scheme was well established for dairy farmers, with the pockets of dairy farms on the south side of the Hurunui already serviced by water.

Mr Pile says the scheme has social and economic benefits outside of farming, particularly for small communities.

It would increase employment, boost local school rolls, keep doctor’s practices open and support the commercial and rural sector businesses in the towns.

Public input sought on water plan

Submissions are open on the Hurunui District Council’s decision to buy shares in the
Hurunui Water Project (HWP).

The council has agreed to buy the shares subject to suitable terms being reached with HWP on the purchase details and public consultation.

Submissions close on Thursday, April 12.

During this period, four public information evenings will be held at 6pm on the following dates:
Tonight, Monday, March 26, at the Heritage Hotel, Hanmer Springs;
Tuesday, March 27, at the council chambers, Amberley;
Tuesday, April 3, at the Waikari Community Hall, Waikari;
Wednesday, April 4, at the Cheviot Community Room, Cheviot School.
Submitters to the proposal, who want to have their submission heard, will be invited to present to the council in person over two days, April 17 and 18.

Council chief executive Hamish Dobbie says the consultation period will be important to the final decision made by the council.

“The information evenings will provide an opportunity for the community to access further
information before formally submitting.”

“As this is a complex issue that is significant for many in our communities, it is important that members of the public are enabled to have their voices heard on this issue before the council progresses further.”

A final decision will be made by the council on either Wednesday, April 18, after the hearing of submissions, or at the scheduled council meeting on Thursday, April 26.