3 Oct 2013

Canterbury irrigation firm plans storage ponds

7:04 am on 3 October 2013

A Canterbury irrigation scheme that has been taking water from the Waimakariri River for 15 years wants to build a large storage pond so it can continue to operate when water restrictions are in force.

Waimakariri Irrigation Limited is a run-of-river scheme that supplies water to about 200 properties, ranging from dairy farms to lifestyle blocks, covering 18,000 hectares on the northern side of the river.

It is seeking a land use consent to build a double pond combination on a site it owns near Oxford.

Manager Brent Walton says the ponds will allow users to continue irrigating during dry periods when the river level is low and there are restrictions on taking the water.

He says the run-of-river scheme provides 73% reliability, so if the river levels drop the company can't irrigate which is why they want to supplement that with storage.

Mr Walton says Waimakariri Irrigation has been issued with a building consent to build a storage pond that holds 8.2 million cubic metres of water.

He says that will provide a minimum of nine days storage but with some clever scheduling that can probably be extended out to 20 - 25 days.

Mr Walton says the effects of this year's drought would have been significantly mitigated if the storage had been available.

He says the storage scheme will cost $25 million - $30 million and the users will pay for it through water charges.