rrigation groups represented by (from left) Chris Dennison, Leigh Hamilton, and Robyn Wells (right) sign water quality memoranda of understanding with Otago Regional Council
chairman Stephen Woodhead. Supplied photo
Improved water quality is the aim of four parties that signed
memoranda of understanding in Oamaru last week.
The North Otago Irrigation Company, Lower Waitaki Irrigation
Company, Waitaki Irrigators Collective Ltd and the Otago
Regional Council officially agreed to work together for the
good of the area's rivers.
The North Otago and Lower Waitaki companies irrigate a
combined total of 32,600ha of farmland, while the collective
represents irrigators watering 75,000ha.
The memoranda outlined how each party would help implement
the council's Regional Plan: Water for Otago Plan Change 6A
by setting goals, understanding values and taking part in
catchment management until 2020. That is when all water
quality thresholds in the plan will be applied.
Council chairman Stephen Woodhead said the memoranda were
significant steps towards achieving sustainable, high-quality
water standards in North Otago.
''It's great to see the quality leadership from these
organisations,'' Mr Woodhead said.
''This, plus their science expertise, will mean that by 2020
land users will have the opportunity to meet the water
quality standards we seek.''
North Otago Irrigation Company chief executive Robyn Wells
said it was vital to work collaboratively to implement the
After gaining information from the catchment process, the
company would add more practices into its farm plans to
reduce contaminants entering waterways.
''These improvements to our environmental management system
will then be rolled out with our existing shareholders and
for any new area of irrigation we develop in our expansion
programme,'' Ms Wells said.
''Moving forward, we need to be working hard to understand
the gap between current practice and the 2020 water quality
Lower Waitaki Irrigation Company chairman Chris Dennison said
the farming community was looking forward to working with the
council to protect the high-quality water in the Waitaki
''The introduction of environmental farm plans for our
shareholders and more intensive monitoring of groundwater
quality will ensure that viable farm businesses can work in
harmony with the environment,'' he said.
Each memorandum varied slightly to reflect implementation
issues in the Kakanui and Waitaki plains catchments. Farmers
on rolling hill country faced different challenges to those
on flat land.
- by Sally Brooker