Irritated Irrigation NZ rejects call for five-year ban on new water schemes

Irrigation NZ chief executive Andrew Curtis

Should there be a moratorium on new irrigation schemes?

Yes, with the dairy downturn they make don’t economic or environmental sense
36%
No, irrigation benefits more than just the dairy sector
64%
Total votes: 36

Lobby group Irrigation NZ has hit back at calls for a five-year ban on new irrigation schemes in the wake of the dairy downturn as being out of step with who reaps the benefit from them.

The Tourism Export Council and the Environmental Defence Society say the government's decision to pour hundreds of millions of dollar into irrigation is a gamble given the dairy downturn and that the growth in intensive farming is a disaster for rivers and streams.

But Irrigation NZ chief executive Andrew Curtis said irrigation supports a variety of land uses including viticulture, horticulture, cropping, sheep and beef. Dairy accounts for half of New Zealand's irrigated area, with 25% relating to sheep and beef finishing and the remaining quarter to vegetable and arable crops, alongside fruit and wine growing.

"Without irrigation, the tourism industry wouldn't be able to promote the food and wine packages it offers in regions such as Hawke's Bay, Marlborough and Central Otago," Mr Curtis said. "These growers are only able to produce quality vintages and products with the support of reliable water."

The most recent estimate of the value of irrigated farms was a 2012 study which found they contributed $2.7 billion to the farmgate and more than twice that in benefits to the wider community.

Last week the government announced $1.6 million worth of funding for three irrigation schemes and Lesley Immink, chief executive of the Tourism Export Council, which represents more than half of the companies that bring in overseas visitors, said she was surprised by the amount of money the government was putting into irrigation while not addressing the country's water quality issues.

The council has been pushing a 'Choose Clean Water Petition' to get new legislation that would set a higher benchmark for fresh water quality, to make waterways swimmable rather than just wadeable.

Ms Immink said today she now "knows a lot more about irrigation than she did 24 hours ago" and acknowledges that there's a place for some schemes, particularly in drought-prone areas of the country.

However, she said there is a direct correlation between water quality and water allocation and "why can't we just pause" on new irrigation schemes while action is taken to resolve our "water crisis."

Separately, Greenpeace today called for Prime Minister John Key to resign his position as minister of tourism because of his continued backing for intensive dairy irrigation schemes that would increase pollution of New Zealand's rivers and streams.

Mr Curtis said getting better at using and storing water had allowed the country to address environmental challenges including legacy water quality concerns as a result of increased land use intensity and general population growth in urban centres.

"We accept that with increasing land intensity, water abstraction needs to leave enough water in our rivers and streams to maintain healthy aquatic ecosystems [the majority of New Zealand rivers have a minimum flow regime], and the impact of farming on the land needs to minimise its footprint," he said.

Stored water also helps New Zealand address climate change issues either through augmenting river flows during the summer or recharging aquifers in spring, Mr Curtis said.

"The Environmental Defence Society is sitting in Auckland throwing stones. It needs to come out to the provinces and see what is going on," he said.

Currently, New Zealand abstracts only  2%  of its water resource (excluding hydropower) and irrigation accounts for 60% percent of that, which is low by international standards.

(BusinessDesk)


20 · Got a question about this story? Leave it in Comments & Questions below.

This article is tagged with the following keywords. Find out more about MyNBR Tags

Post Comment

20 Comments & Questions

Commenter icon key: Subscriber Verified

Of course all water projects should be banned!!! Water is not owned by ANYONE!!!! so they have no commodity to on sell, if there is no owner there is nothing to on SELL!!!!! that is what is so confusing with this HB Dam project, how can the promoters sell something that they do not OWN!!!!

Reply
Share
  • 0
  • 0

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Water_pricing ... some countries allow water rights to be traded, so that the price for water itself is formed in the market. Such water trading exist in parts of Australia, Chile and the Southwestern US ...

Reply
Share
  • 0
  • 0

So does that mean I don't have to pay my water bill from watercare?

Reply
Share
  • 0
  • 0

I don't think you are paying for the water? I think if you look into it they are recouping all reasonable costs to provide that water to you as that is all they can do I am informed??!! if you are being charged for metered water well if it were myself I would be getting stuck into them for doing so!! it is in Law that nobody owns the water so it cannot be sold, we have a case in point down here in Hawkes Bay, where some switched on businessmen have set up water bottling plants and selling it to China! note not to any one in NZ, and they are getting the water for free, simply because nobody can charge them for it!!!!!! there is a bit of a stink going on with the Labour Party's Stuart Nash canvassing for a Royalty to be paid.
Can I suggest that you take this up with your Water provider...watercare is it?

Reply
Share
  • 0
  • 0

There are interesting developments with drip tape that while representing a systemic recapitalisation of irrigation do open up highly targeted and efficient uses of irrigation water. Fintape is a company that has looked into this in Canterbury.
The point is if the handwringing on traditional forms of irrigation reaches fever pitch there are other options besides throwing out baby dairy with the effy bathwater.
When we consider those issues we need to reflect on what our colonial forefathers paid for the land that they bought and why there was such a difference between the values based on local farming systems of the time and the kind of thinking they bought with them from Europe.
While the size of Fonterra has tempted us to consider ourselves the leaders perhaps sustainability options may require some humility and consideration of the experience and lessons of those who havnt had the generous resources that we have.
Maybe we can double down, lever up into more conservation friendly forms of irrigation without losing control of our land through the process.
This comment is in no way a concession to the pressures on the likes of Irrigation NZ, more an appeal to the broader issues.

Reply
Share
  • 1
  • 0

http://www.nzherald.co.nz/hawkes-bay-today/rural/news/article.cfm?c_id=1... ... river valleys in very arid climates in north Chile's transverse valleys are productive under carefully managed irrigation. From Arica in the north to Coquimbo near Santiago. Surely we could also learn from such regions as California and South Africa in this respect ... https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Irrigation#Drip_irrigation aka trickle irrigation ... : this method can be the most water-efficient ... if managed properly, since evaporation and runoff are minimized ...

Reply
Share
  • 0
  • 0

Why are we supporting such a capital gain for farmers - particularly dairy farmers whose peak prices have past and when other world dairy production costs are far cheaper than ours?

Reply
Share
  • 0
  • 1

http://www.infrastructure.govt.nz/plan/mar2010/53.htm ... the rationale for government involvement in developing, subsidising and maintaining community irrigation schemes has changed from period to period ...

Reply
Share
  • 0
  • 0

I strongly recommend that the underlying cause is investigated before passing judgement on this issue. EDS and Greenpeace have agendas which may not be apparent, but relate to control. They are doomsday cults who will use all possible means to achieve their objectives.

Reply
Share
  • 1
  • 1

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mendoza_wine ... in the far western expanse of Argentina, Mendoza has a continental climate and semi-arid desert conditions. The region experiences 4 distinct seasons with no extremes in temperatures that provides a relatively uneventful annual growth cycle for grapevines - especially winter dormancy. Rainfall in the region averages around 8 inches (200 millimeters) a year, making irrigation a necessity. Spring time frost is a rare occurrence with the main viticultural concern being summertime hail ... ; the soil of the Mendoza wine region is primarily alluvial composed of loose sand over clay. Mountain rivers ... provide ample water supplies from melted glaciers in the Andes. ... bores scattered throughout the region provide the equivalent of an additional two rivers' worth of water flow to the area. A system of irrigation channels, canals and reservoirs (some dating to the 16th century) help sustain viticulture in this semi-arid desert region ...

Reply
Share
  • 0
  • 0

The intensive dairy farming is clouding the main issue of irrigation. The East coast of NZ is getting drier as a result of climate change and will need progressively more water to maintain population and services. http://www.climateoutcome.kiwi.nz/precipitation-changes-in-a-warming-wor...

Reply
Share
  • 1
  • 1

If one were to accept your climate change claims (and few rational folk do so), then that would be all the more reason to build dams.
It is not as though there is a shortage of water in the "irreducibly pluvial" NZ situation, but the rain must be harvested.

What the water in the dam is used for is an entirely different question. The water captured by the dam in winter might be used to maintain minimum river flows in summertime. All good , right?

Reply
Share
  • 0
  • 0

Couldn't have put it better. 10/10
Man has, for eons, harvested (what ever) in times of plenty for use in times of shotage.
The opponents of harvesting call themselves conservationists! ! Go figure that out? *sigh*

Reply
Share
  • 1
  • 0

Well Farmer Brown and John Morrison, you would be the last of the denialists re climate change.

But tell me this - do you or do you not profit from having your farms irrigated and doesn't the free supply of water to you increase the capital value of your farm?

Reply
Share
  • 0
  • 1

Whoops you put your foot in it ; no rational person denies that the climate changes, but all the causes of change remain undetermined. That is where the science sits today.

For the record , I don't irrigate my farm, in spite of having ample water sources. There are more profitable uses of capital at this time.

And no, the capital value of my farm would not alter , being determined mainly by soil type , location and use.

Reply
Share
  • 0
  • 0

Your words speak for themselves

Reply
Share
  • 0
  • 1

Now Linda, tch tch.
The climate is changing, and this may surprise conservationists, it has been changing since time began. It has warmed up in the past and brought the planet out of the ice age, I have no doubt it will warm again.
I too, do not irrigate, I'm past farming, retired.
What I'm talking about Linda is conservation, you know? planning for the future so our descendants can eat and turn a dollar for their family needs.
Conservation is the answer Linda, please will you not join us.

Reply
Share
  • 1
  • 0

Your sarcasm is unbecoming but also indicative.
To talk about climate change in terms of time lapse is the ultimate in denial. You and Farmer brown simply aren't up with the play in terms of modern science, no matter how much you deny it.
And to accuse conservationists of opposing harvesting is simply name calling. One might hope you could use your retirement better than this.

Reply
Share
  • 0
  • 1

I'm sorry Linda but the "Green" Party is on record, opposing harvesting water.
I'd be delighted if this was not the truth, as I absolutely do not understand those who believe that watching water run out to sea is somehow "conservation"..

Reply
Share
  • 1
  • 0

http://www.fao.org/docrep/u3160e/u3160e03.htm ... water harvesting (WH) can be considered a rudimentary form of irrigation. The difference is that with WH the farmer (or more usually, the agro-pastoralist) has no control over timing. Runoff can only be harvested when it rains ...

Reply
Share
  • 1
  • 0

Post New comment or question

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.

NZ Market Snapshot

Forex

Sym Price Change
USD 0.7386 0.0000 0.00%
AUD 0.9339 0.0000 0.00%
EUR 0.5955 0.0000 0.00%
GBP 0.5265 0.0000 0.00%
HKD 5.7785 0.0000 0.00%
JPY 78.3770 0.0000 0.00%

Commods

Commodity Price Change Time
Gold Index 1346.5 -6.690 2018-02-16T00:
Oil Brent 64.9 0.510 2018-02-16T00:
Oil Nymex 61.8 0.390 2018-02-16T00:
Silver Index 16.7 -0.090 2018-02-16T00:

Indices

Symbol Open High Last %
NASDAQ 7236.5 7303.3 7256.4 -0.23%
DJI 25165.9 25432.4 25200.4 0.08%