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A trial project to recharge the Makauri aquifer near Gisborne and deliver an economic boost to the region has been officially started by Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy today.

“This aquifer is crucial to the local economy but water availability is a major issue. Lack of water is holding back the further development of arable and horticultural industries which would mean more jobs and exports,” says Mr Guy.

“The injection and monitoring phase of this project begins today with the pumping of high flow water from the Waipaoa River through the pilot bore into the Makauri Aquifer, which has had declining water levels for decades.

“This is another great example of how smart water storage projects can deliver economic and environmental benefits.

“The technology to recharge aquifers has been successfully used overseas and we are starting to invest in this in New Zealand, such as the Hinds/Hekeao MAR project in Mid-Canterbury.”

The Makauri MAR scheme will receive funding of up to $250,000 from the Ministry for Primary Industries’ Irrigation Acceleration Fund (IAF). It is also co-funded by the Gisborne District Council with $230,000 and has received $200,000 in funding from the Eastland Community Trust.

The Poverty Bay Flats comprises 18,000 hectares of New Zealand’s most productive horticulture land. There is currently 3,000 hectares of irrigated land on the Flats producing $160 million in regional GDP annually and employing 1100 people - about 10% of the Tairāwhiti workforce.

Increasing sustainable production through irrigation is one of the four key themes of the Gisborne/Tairawhiti Economic Action Plan.

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