Manuherikia Catchment Water Strategy Group Project

Irrigators in the Manuherikia catchment face several challenges. They include:

• Existing infrastructure is old, needs significant investment, and limits the amount of land that can be fully irrigated.
• Most of the catchment's deemed permits (historical water permits) will expire in 2021 and need to be replaced with new RMA consents.
• New RMA consents will require a higher level of efficiency in conveyance and use and need to address minimum flow issues.
• The National Policy Statement for Fresh Water Management (NPS) and the Otago Regional Council Regional Plan: Water (Plan Change 6a) policy requirements for higher standards need to be adhered to for freshwater management which will require changes to on-farm irrigation practices.   The Otago Regional Council is also consulting on Proposed Plan Change 5C Integrated Water Management: Manuherikia Catchment which involves the setting of minimum flows and levels for the Manuherikia River, its tributaries and the aquifers within the Manuherikia Catchment.

Studies commissioned by the Manuherikia Catchment Water Strategy Group  (MCWSG), which has been working to modernise and upgrade water management in the Manuherikia and Ida valleys, have found that the Manuherikia Valley is not water short but that water is available at the wrong time. More storage and efficiency could improve reliability and potentially increase the fully irrigated area from 6,500 ha to around 21,000 ha. More storage would also make more water available for environmental and recreation objectives. A number of options for achieving this have been identified.  The irrigation component of the MCWSG project has been transferred to a company - Manuherikia River Ltd,  which based on commitments of financial support from irrigators is now  focussed on progressing a 6 meter raise of the Falls Dam. 

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