Government announcement on irrigation a lost opportunity
IrrigationNZ says it welcomes the government’s announcement today that the Waimea Community Dam and Kurow Duntroon
Irrigation Scheme will be able to progress, however it is disappointed that the planned Hurunui, Hunter Downs and
Flaxborne irrigation projects will not be able to access loan funding.
“In Crown Irrigation Investments Briefing to Incoming Ministers, the socio-economic gain to communities from planned
future irrigation projects in New Zealand was over $1.2 billion per year. With a number of these projects being unable
to access loan funding, this is a huge lost opportunity for these rural communities,” says IrrigationNZ Chief Executive
“The Hurunui Water Project, Hunter Downs and Flaxborne irrigation projects all have local community support and also
meet strict new environmental requirements around river swimmability and nutrient limits. In addition to this they plan
to undertake additional activities to help improve existing water quality - for example the Hunter Downs scheme was
planning to augment river flows into the Wainono Lagoon which will help to restore this culturally and environmentally
significant ecosystem. A recent UNESCO report – Nature Based Solutions for Water, has highlighted the importance of
‘green infrastructure’ initiatives such as this for improving water quality globally,” he adds.
The Hurunui, Hunter Downs and Flaxborne projects aim to provide water security to predominantly beef, sheep and cropping
farms in drought prone areas.
“Over the past summer we have experienced droughts followed by unprecedented wet conditions. This is indicative of the
climate change impacts we can expect to see in the future,” says Mr Curtis. “It is critical for rural east coast farming
communities to have access to a reliable water supply in order to help them manage through these effects,” says Mr
Mr Curtis says that when farming communities experience significant droughts, it’s not just farmers who suffer but also
the rest of the community and local businesses.
“Local councils see the value of investment in water infrastructure and recognise this as one of the most pressing
issues for their communities. We would like to see the merits of these projects considered through the Provincial Growth
Fund. These projects will build more resilient rural communities and provide significant community benefits.”