3 Nov 2014

Studies reveal effects of water scheme

2:56 pm on 3 November 2014

Three high level studies have been released today by the organisation weighing up an irrigation scheme in Wairarapa considering the potential economic, social and recreational effects.

Michael Bassett-Foss, director of the Wairarapa Water Use Project, said the studies were broad and not a cost-benefit analysis. Multiple sites for the scheme were still being considered, so costs had not been factored in.

But Mr Bassett-Foss said the new reports gave an idea of the impacts an irrigation scheme could have.

"We took the scenario of 10,000 hectares, which might be equal to one scheme going ahead but the total irrigable area is 30,000 hectares, so we took that as a scenario too.

"Once all the water was taken up by farmers on a 10,000-hectare scenario, it would add $52 million per year to the economy in terms of value add of GDP and of that $18 million would be directly into households as wages as salaries - and that was quite exciting really - and even better 400 new jobs."

Mr Bassett-Foss said the figures would be tripled if 30,000 hectares were irrigated.

It was also clear that any future irrigation scheme could have a big impact on farming in the area, he said, with immigrant labour and seasonal workers moving to the area, as well as shaking up existing farmers.

"Typically you see new farmers coming into the region, often younger generation - some corporate farmers certainly, sort of a scaling up of farms.

"But with corporate farmers and younger farmers, they often come from different educational backgrounds, new technologies and effectively drive uptake of good practice farming systems."

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs