5 Aug 2010

Canterbury irrigation canal being considered

10:03 pm on 5 August 2010

Construction of a massive irrigation canal is being considered as a way to link irrigation schemes and water storage facilities in Canterbury.

The canal is just one of the options being discussed by the Canterbury Water Management Strategy as it looks at ways to fix the region's water issues.

The canal would be almost 400km in length, across the region from North Canterbury to the Otago border.

Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker says discussions are at a very early stage.

Prime Minister John Key has signalled the Government will invest in water infrastructure in Canterbury and Peter Townsend, who is on the strategy's steering committee, says that is promising.

Mr Townsend says irrigation is crucial to Canterbury's development.

The proposal was discussed recently by Central Plains Water, which says it is a common-sense approach.

Chairman Pat Morrison says a canal the company is planning between the Waimakariri and Rakaia rivers would be an integral link in the system.

No price has yet been put on the scheme, but the smaller Central Plains scheme is estimated to cost up to $200 million.