Report shows swell in demand for irrigation

The Waitaki River at Waitaki Bridge. Photo by ODT.
The Waitaki River at Waitaki Bridge. Photo by ODT.
A dry autumn helped the North Otago Irrigation Company pump out its third highest recorded volume of water to properties on its scheme since it was opened close to 14 years ago.

About 38million cum of water was delivered to 163 farmer shareholders, irrigating 26,000 hectares of land in the 11 months to May 31, the company’s report to the Waitaki District Council, presented on Tuesday, showed.

There was strong demand for irrigation over the peak summer period, after a typically slow start in October and November, which the report said was more than offset by demand in December and January.

The dry autumn which followed boosted demand further.

The company also recorded its highest daily delivery volume, pumping out 478million litres in a single day during the height of summer.

"The scheme has performed very well this season, maintaining consistent and reliable supply to farmers," the report said.

The scheme, which takes water from the Waitaki River, provides the North Otago downlands area with water for irrigation, stock, domestic, industrial and community use.

Water is pumped from Borton’s Pond, at the intake of the Lower Waitaki Irrigation Scheme, into a canal, and then pumped to a second pond, from where it serves the Waiareka and Kakanui Valleys.

The area it covers extends as far south as Herbert.

The Covid-19 pandemic had not affected supply, but North Otago Irrigation Company commercial manager Stephen Craig-Pearson said the company was aware some farmers were under financial pressure, and had opted to put a freeze on any increase in water charges for a time.

"We are budgeting to hold our charges flat. We do not want to put any demand on farmers ... we have got good levels of cash reserves to counter any whoopsies along the way."

One priority for the company for this financial year was to sell its remaining shares.

Mr Craig-Pearson said 253 shares were sold in the year to May 31, which equated to 87% of total shares offered; as of this week 2583 shares remained unsold, each valued at $4750.

Long term capital investment, asset management, environmental leadership, and increased community involvement would also be given priority.

The firm also reported 97% compliance on farms for its independently audited farm environmental plans, up from 86% last year.

It had the right to restrict supply if a failed audit was not corrected before being re-audited, usually after 12 months.

Chief executive Andrew Rodwell said the company took environmental practice concerns seriously.

"It is an absolute pillar of the company and the business, and one I have no apology for at all."

For the year to date, the company reported a net profit of $812,696.

It is required to report to the council, which also has a representative on its board, under the conditions of its loan agreement.

The company’s scheme officially opened in 2006.

Add a Comment

Sponsored Content