Canterbury's next big irrigation scheme moved a step closer with the announcement it is to receive $1.7 million in funding from the Government's irrigation acceleration fund.
The Central Plains Water project will irrigate up to 60,000 hectares of farmland using water from the Waimakariri and Rakaia Rivers.
The Ministry for Primary Industries has promised a further $4 million if the project meets its planning milestones.
Central Plains Water said a project team is starting on detailed design for the first stage, which will cover 20,000 hectares and the funding will meet the detailed design and planning costs of the headrace canal and pipe distribution network.
Chief executive Derek Crombie expects that, further downstream, Central Plains Water will also be looking to an irrigation investment company the Government is setting up to provide bridging finance for getting construction started.
He said that will allow the company to build infrastructure that will mean everyone in that area will be able to connect, rather than just the farmers who joined on day one.