Central Hawke's Bay farmers who tap into the proposed Ruataniwha water storage scheme may get the opportunity to invest in it too.
The Hawke's Bay Regional Council is asking the Government to recognise the scheme as a project of national significance.
The council and its investment company have made applications to the Environmental Protection Authority seeking resource consents and a regional plan change required for the project, which would supply water to about 25,000 hectares of land from a dam on a tributary of the Tukituki River.
Investment company chair Andy Pearce said the estimated $260 million cost would be met by the regional council, the Government's proposed Crown irrigation investment company and private investors.
He said it's possible that farmers in the area will be able to invest directly in the infrastructure.
But Mr Pearce says the model for the project is that it's a water supply company and it will sell water to farmers on an agreed contractual basis.
He says those farmer water users do not have to be investors in the project.