The Central Plains Irrigation Scheme has got the farmer backing it needs to proceed, and construction on stage one will begin soon.
The project will eventually irrigate about 60,000 hectares of farmland in Canterbury.
Central Plains Water had to extend by a week its initial deadline of 31 October for farmers to commit to stage one, because it was short of the $43 million minimum farmer investment it required.
But Central Plains Water chief executive Derek Crombie says the extension did the trick.
The company now has the required capital for stage one, which will irrigate 18,000 hectares.
Mr Crombie says in total, 250 farmers have committed to the scheme's first and second stages.
He says the next step is to allocate the shares and the whole issue has been subscribed by the existing shareholders.
Mr Crombie says after that will be the completion of the design process and engagement with contractors to get the tender process fully under way and following that construction.
He says site clearing works are expected to start just after Christmas and the heavy construction work will begin by late February.
Mr Crombie says he expects stage one will be completed by September 2015 and that 250 farmers are now signed up to take water from the three stage scheme.
Farmer's relief at project green light
Dry-land farmer Charlie Draper says he's relieved stage one has got the go-ahead, because that makes the next two stages more certain.
Mr Draper has put $40,000 into stage two and although it won't be financially beneficial for him in the short term, he says it's about leaving a legacy for future generations.
Hawke's Bay water scheme preferred contractor announced
Hawke's Bay Regional Council has announced that its preferred contractor to build the Ruataniwha Water Storage Scheme is the OHL-Hawkins joint venture.
European Contractor, OHL joined with Hawkins Infrastructure, New Zealand's largest privately owned construction company for the project - which could see about 30,000 hectares of central Hawke's Bay farmland irrigated.