A feasibility study estimated to cost roughly $1.5 million is
the next stage of developing and safeguarding irrigation
supplies in the Manuherikia catchment.
The Manuherikia Catchment Water Strategy Group was set up in
2011 to represent the interests of the six irrigation
companies and water users in the Manuherikia and Ida valleys.
Results from a pre-feasibility study to identify the most
cost-effective, efficient and sustainable options for
irrigation and water users in the catchment were outlined at
meetings last month. Feedback was still being sought from
irrigators, group chairman Allan Kane, of Wanaka, said.
''Involving the wider catchment is pretty much a prerequisite
to getting Government and regional council funding,'' he
said. The development options covered in the study included a
new dam at Mt Ida, a new dam at Hope Creek, Poolburn, raising
the Falls Dam by 5m and upgrading the existing infrastructure
or raising the Falls Dam by 27m, to allow about 14,000ha of
new land to be irrigated.
Raising the dam by at least 5m and upgrading the
infrastructure had to be done to renew the existing resource
consents, Mr Kane said.
''Whether there's sufficient interest in the upper
Manuherikia to look at raising it by 27m is something we're
going to canvass the farmers' interest in.''
The feasibility study would explore the options in greater
detail, including the per hectare costs for current
irrigators and potential new ones.
Irrigators would have to raise some of the funds for the
feasibility study but Mr Kane hoped about half of the funding
would come from the Government's Irrigation Acceleration
Fund, with the Otago Regional Council hopefully contributing
The final cost of the study would be about $1.5 million. He
hoped to have a more detailed brief within a fortnight and
call for tenders and begin the study by the middle of the
year, funding permitting.
Although the group started the project believing the
catchment was short of water, the early study revealed there
was more than enough water.
''The problem is that it is not there when irrigators need
it. The solution is not more water, but more storage.''