Irrigation schemes’ consents renewed for another 10 years


All of Mid Canterbury’s big three irrigation schemes have now had their consents renewed for another 10 years.

The last to be confirmed was Barrhill Chertsey Irrigation (BCI) last month, with MHV Water and Ashburton Lyndhurst Irrigation approved earlier this year.

While not required to be publicly notified, all three irrigation scheme applications were limited notified to Te Runanga o Ngai Tahu in relation to potential effects on the Hakatere Ashburton River.

In September, the independent hearing commissioner released its decision to grant BCI two applications, one for the Hekeao Hinds Plains area, and one for the Ashburton-Rakaia area, subject to conditions. As BCI’s command area of 24,000 hectares straddles two planning zones, it required two applications.

BCI conditions include a 15 per cent reduction in nitrogen losses from a baseline of good management practice by 2025 and 25 per cent in the Hekeao Hinds Plains area and 30 per cent in the Ashburton-Rakaia area by 2030.

This includes a legally binding requirement on shareholders to achieve these reductions as part of their water supply agreement with the scheme.

Farmers managed by the scheme must have comprehensive and audited farm environment plans and the scheme must monitor ground and surface water quality to ensure no further deterioration, and if deterioration is detected to implement a remediation and response plan to further reduce nitrogen inputs.

If any remediation and response plan fails to achieve improvements, Environment Canterbury may review the consent.

The scheme must also protect community drinking water supplies.

MHV Water delivers water and manages the environmental compliance for about 58,000 hectares of farmland in the Hekeao Hinds plains, while Ashburton Lyndhurst Irrigation covers 30,000ha.

– By Heather Chalmers