Landowners in the Hunter Downs Irrigation Scheme command area
have some big decisions to make.
Information is being gathered and spread by the company
responsible for community and farmer communications on the
project, Hunter Downs Irrigation Ltd. Update meetings were
held in Waimate and Hook last Thursday and in St Andrews the
The company had recommended interested parties take part in
irrigation field days run by DairyNZ at Hunter last month and
at Ikawai last week.
The scheme already has consent to take and use up to
20.5cumecs from the Waitaki River in a 60,000ha command area
from Waimate to Otipua.
It has also been granted $640,000 from the Ministry for
Primary Industries' Irrigation Acceleration Fund to help pay
for engineering design, an investigation into landowner
demand and a fundraising prospectus.
Hunter Downs Irrigation Ltd chairman Andrew Fraser said the
farming community was in control of how the scheme would
proceed. Without a minimum uptake of 20,000ha to be
irrigated, it would not go ahead.
Hunter Downs Development Co Ltd interim chief executive Brian
Ellwood said the plan for the upcoming year was to work
through the costs, to be in a position to decide whether the
water should be pumped or gravity-fed and how far north the
scheme should go.
''We need farmer input to unlock the funding from
Four engineering consortiums were submitting tenders for the
scheme design, shortlisted down from seven, he said. Their
proposals would be received just before Christmas and the
successful one would be announced in February.
Farmers would be given budget figures in November next year,
Mr Ellwood said. They could then start seeking the
appropriate consents to alter their land.
It was possible irrigation could augment the Wainono Lagoon
and ''actually help'' improve its problems. There has been
strong support for the scheme providing environmental
solutions, he said.
Mr Fraser said it was up for debate as to whether the scheme
would be farmer-owned or have outside investors.
''We will keep the communication lines open. Farmers will be
the first to know when we have any specifics.''
Capital raising would start early in the new year, he said.