A change to the constitution of Crown Irrigation Investments Limited (CIIL) will allow it to fund water storage projects with direct environmental and economic benefits, rather than on the basis of purely economic grounds, Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has announced today.
“This is an important change to CIIL’s mandate which recognises and reinforces how important water storage and distribution projects are to the environment,” says Mr Guy.
“The current rules limit CIIL’s purpose to considering the long-term economic benefits from projects that it invests in, but it makes sense to broaden the scope given the wider benefits of these projects. It will now be able to provide concessionary loans to local authorities for projects that directly lead to environmental benefits.”
The change was originally requested by CIIL and has now been formally approved by Cabinet.
“This is good news for potential projects like the Waimea Community Dam near Nelson. The project captures Lee River flows and allows for the controlled release of stored water into the river system during periods of high water demand and/or low natural flows.
“Reliability of water provided by this project would allow pasture to be converted to higher value crops like apples. It would also recharge aquifers, provide water for municipal supply and improve water quality for recreational use.
“Likewise, projects like Central Plains Water is replacing 75-80% of groundwater take consents in the area, helping improve water flows into Lake Ellesmere.
“This change makes it even more disappointing that Labour and the Greens want to scrap all irrigation funding and tax water. This would be disastrous for growers, farmers and the regions. Industries like horticulture and viticulture need a reliable source of water to meet international demand and deal with droughts.”
CIIL is a Crown Entity Company established in 2013. Its purpose is to co-invest in schemes, provide grants for schemes in development, and apply commercial expertise and leadership to irrigation schemes. With CIIL’s proposed change now approved, it can now also provide concessionary loans to local authorities.