The national body representing irrigation interests hopes Canterbury's new water management strategy will take some of the heat and emotion out of deciding how the region's water should be used.
The regional council says the aim is to get irrigators, farmers, environmentalists and recreational interests working together to agree on the way water should be allocated, rather than battling it out in the courts.
Irrigation New Zealand chief executive Andrew Curtis says that sort of approach is long overdue in Canterbury.
He says it is creating better understanding of how systems work, and that water storage is essential if environmental outcomes are to be achieved.
The strategy aims to take the pressure off rivers and aquifers by stopping the uncoordinated granting of consents to sink wells and providing more storage for irrigation.
It has shortlisted seven options which it says show the greatest potential for boosting the region's irrigation and water storage capacity.