Rakaia-Selwyn irrigators encouraged to meter

Press Release – Environment Canterbury

Water users in the Rakaia-Selwyn area are being encouraged to get started on installing water meters or risk running out of time before the deadline in September this year. Rakaia-Selwyn irrigators encouraged to get on with metering

Water users in the Rakaia-Selwyn area are being encouraged to get started on installing water meters or risk running out of time before the deadline in September this year.

Large water-take consent holders – those using more than 357,000 cubic metres per year – are required to install water meters by 30 September this year as a result of a recent Environment Canterbury review of 532 water-take resource consents in the Rakaia-Selwyn zone. Smaller water users have until September 2011 to install water meters.

“Although the recent consent review decision has been appealed by a number of consent holders, we are encouraging large water users to go ahead with planning their water metering systems or they may run out of time to have the installations completed,” said Tania Harris, Environment Canterbury Consents Review Manager.

“Water metering for water-take consents will become mandatory once the government adopts the National Regulations for measurement of water use.”

“There is also plenty of support and information for water-take consent holders, including Environment Canterbury’s water metering team based in Ashburton, on how to install and operate water measuring systems.”

Andrew Neill, general manager of Watermetrics, which provides and installs water measuring systems, said there were compelling reasons for farmers to install metering.

“Water metering, as part of an integrated farm management plan including soil moisture and rainfall monitoring, provides significant benefits for farmers.

“Farmers are able to improve their bottom line by saving money on pumping and irrigation costs, as well as higher production as a result of the more efficient application of water.”

“Although there is plenty of capacity for installation at the moment, if everyone waits until the last minute it will cause problems. We are advising large water users they need to start working now on their installation options and should have a contract by the end of June specifying their system will go in before the deadline in September,” said Andrew Neill.

A typical water measuring system can take up to six weeks to install and configure.

Simon Osborne, a member of the Ellesmere Irrigation Society, said 163 water users had agreed to connect to the society’s telemetry network, which has been set up to provide a shared and economical solution to collecting, monitoring and measuring the data from water meters.

“Although only a few farmers have installed meters so far, a large number have signalled their intent by joining the telemetry network.”

“Many of these farmers are not required to provide data via telemetry, but have elected to join the network because they understand the economies of scale a shared system provides.

The society is setting up a website – with data from farmers and potentially stream and river minimum flow information – which will be up and running by September.

“We plan to develop a system of audited self-management which we believe will provide farmers with the monitoring and information they need about water use, as well as providing Environment Canterbury the information it needs to manage the overall water resource in the Rakaia-Selwyn zone,” said Simon Osborne.

Government support for the Rakaia-Selwyn audited self-management programme includes the recent announcement by the Minister of Agriculture, the Hon David Carter, of funding via the Sustainable Farming Fund for a ‘How to Guide’ and other initiatives.

Environment Canterbury is sending updated consents to every one of the 532 consent holders affected by the review process. The consent review was initiated by Environment Canterbury in 2007 to address the cumulative effects of water-take consents, and was the first large-scale review of consents in New Zealand.

ENDS

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