11 Jul 2012

Farmers eye 30 possible reservoirs

6:35 am on 11 July 2012

A Wairarapa group working on a large-scale irrigation project says it has narrowed the number of potential water storage sites in the region down to 30.

Adequate storage would allow an extra 30,000 hectares of land from Mt Bruce to Lake Ferry to be irrigated in summer when water is in short supply.

Similar to a number already underway in Canterbury and Hawke's Bay, the project is expected to pump an extra $500 million into the economy and create up to 14,000 new jobs.

It's being assessed by the Wairarapa water use project group, which is a partnership between Wellington Regional Council and industry groups.

Over the past year the group has whittled a list of 240 potential water storage sites down to 30 and environmental manager Nigel Corry says the next step is to narrow that down further.

"By the end of the year we will have gone through further analysis around those 30 sites," says Mr Corry.

The group expects to know within a month whether it's secured funding from the Government's $35 million Irrigation Acceleration Fund.