Cantabrians should be celebrating the announcement of Government funding to progress the Central Plains Water scheme – as agriculture like no other industry – has the ability to help fund Canterbury’s rebuild, says IrrigationNZ CEO Andrew Curtis.
The Irrigation Acceleration Fund will co-fund $1.71million for preliminary design and planning for Central Plains Water’s headrace canal and pipe distribution network. Construction is expected to start this September with the scheme delivering ‘first water’ to some areas for the start of the 2014/15 irrigation season.
“Central Plains Water will generate significant socio-economic benefit for a region that desperately requires economic stability. IrrigationNZ supports this grant as Selwyn farmers are ready to invest in sustainable irrigation. No other industry in Canterbury can produce such immediate revitalisation of the community. We are talking new construction jobs, increased on-farm labour and contracting demand, as well as downstream spending which will be spread across Christchurch and Canterbury.”
“We now look forward to hearing when other developing schemes in the region, particularly the Hurunui Water Project, will receive support from the IAF. North Canterbury also holds vast potential to assist Christchurch’s rebuild through increased agricultural production,” says Mr Curtis.
Mr Curtis says Green Party claims that the Central Plains Water scheme would be environmentally detrimental did not marry up with the reality of the scheme.
“Central Plains Water will restore stream flows which will improve the health of aquatic eco-systems and also relieve pressure on the aquifers by irrigating from surface water in stage 1 rather than deep groundwater. Irrigators will also have to sign up for farm management plans which will carefully monitor environmental effects. It appears the Green Party has not taken into account how closely this approach marries up with the Canterbury Water Management Strategy’s goal of moving towards a more sustainable and reliable supply of irrigation water,” says Mr Curtis.
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