20 Jul 2017

Otago $9m irrigation scheme given green light

1:04 pm on 20 July 2017

A new irrigation scheme in Otago will help transform dry, wasted land into productive land full of cherry trees and vineyards, the company behind it says.

Irrigation pivots

Photo: Supplied

But it comes at a time when questions have been raised about the sustainability of irrigation schemes in the region, in the face of expiring permits.

The $9 million Dairy Creek Irrigation Scheme, which will cover 1500 hectares of land in the Clutha catchment, has been given the green light.

The scheme is a joint venture between the Dairy Creek Irrigation Company and Pioneer Energy.

Pioneer Energy's chief executive Fraser Jonker said it will pay for the cost of the scheme, and is adamant the project is sustainable.

"This area is hugely dry so in the summer there's normally nothing. So this will transform into green areas and also supporting some growth in the horticulture side of our district."

"There's a combination of vineyards and brand new cherry orchards. The cherry industry is growing quite rapidly in this area, and some vineyards will be developed and existing ones will be better supported with more reliable supply."

He said during full production, about 1800 litres per second will be taken out of the Clutha River.

"I think you just need to look at the amount of water that goes down the Clutha River into the sea, to know that on the Clutha River [a water shortage] is probably not a big issue. There's a lot of debate around the smaller rivers though."

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