The opening of the final stage of the Central Plains Water Scheme yesterday is an excellent success for water storage and forward thinking in New Zealand, National Agriculture Spokesperson Nathan Guy says.

“The scheme was started by Canterbury farmers concerned about prolonged droughts in the 1990s and has gone from strength to strength on the back of strong support from National through the Irrigation Acceleration Fund and Crown Irrigation while in Government.

“The project is generating $1 billion per year of increased productivity to the region and created 700 jobs.

“There are also many environmental benefits with groundwater takes being replaced with surplus river water. This leaves one to two Lake Taupo’s of water in the local aquifer each year, which is positive for Lake Ellesmere.

“Individual farms also have to meet strict environmental regulations and have very detailed farm management plans.

“Next year, pipework will help replenish the Selwyn River during winter months which will help feed the lowland streams during summer months and make a difference for aquatic life and recreation users.

“The big disappointment going forward is the Coalition Government’s support for water storage projects has dried up.

“It is short-sighted not to realise that water storage will protect us against a warming climate and enhance food security.”

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