Manuherikia irrigation scheme concerns aired

Manuherikia Catchment Water Strategy Group chairman Allan Kane addresses the audience at a...
Manuherikia Catchment Water Strategy Group chairman Allan Kane addresses the audience at a meeting about the scheme in Alexandra. Photos: Jono Edwards.
Lifestylers are questioning what is in it for them in regards to a potential wide-spread irrigation scheme in the Manuherikia and Ida Valleys.

Manuherikia Catchment Water Strategy Group chairman Allan Kane addresses the audience at a...
Manuherikia Catchment Water Strategy Group chairman Allan Kane addresses the audience at a meeting about the scheme in Alexandra.
About 70 people attended a public meeting about the scheme, held in Alexandra this week and hosted by the Manuherikia Catchment Water Strategy Group. Chairman Allan Kane told the meeting it was more about water storage than irrigation.

"We have enough water in the region, it just falls at the wrong time. If we want our children and our children’s children to have a future, we need water."

There was a lot of interest from existing irrigators, but not much from those in what were very dry areas, he said.

"And I haven’t met anyone planning to convert to dairy. Although that doesn’t mean they’re not out there."

Central Otago district councillor Victoria Bonham said there were about 70 irrigators in her home of Galloway, most of whom lived on lifestyle blocks, and their land had a higher cost per hectare than other irrigators in the scheme.

Mr Kane said the cost per hectare was not higher, but the running costs were.

"There’s a reason for that which is the power cost which gets reimbursed within the Galloway situation.

"The issue here is, in order to bring the existing infrastructure up to standard to deliver the water that you’re currently getting, there is a cost to that.

"Reliability is very important for farmers, but perhaps not so important for lifestylers, so individuals need to think about what they will each get out of this."

Ray Wright, also of Galloway, said that community would need to combine its efforts.

"We see ourselves as having a farm management plan for those lifestylers on Galloway and remain as a community running it."

Mr Kane said the group was doing all it could to ensure they could still operate it in that way.

Matakanui Station farmer Andrew Paterson said he welcomed the reliability the scheme would bring.

Potential irrigators were asked to put up $50 per hectare they wanted irrigated to fund the next stage of the project.

Declarations of interest were due by October 25, but the group was  flexible about that date.

The scheme involves either raising the Falls Dam, or building a new, higher dam at that site.

Estimated costs for dam construction work range from $28million to $80 million and the estimated cost of the largest distribution option is $100 million. The largest option could irrigate 25,000ha of land.

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