Facebook icon Twitter icon Forward icon

Project Update 23 February 2016

Project Phases

The Wairarapa Water Use Project aims to secure a sustainable future for our region’s people, land and water, by storing and using water in ways that boost regional prosperity, care for the environment and support community use.

The project, currently in its feasibility phase, continues to quantify and assess a range of risks and potential benefits as it moves towards the next phase of finance, consenting and final design.  Construction could begin in 2020.

Feasibility phase

Following on from earlier work, a more detailed study of the financial, environmental, social and cultural feasibility of the proposed Black Creek and Tividale schemes  is well underway.

The 2015-2017 feasibility phase aims to move the project into a new commercial entity that can complete investigations and if viable, raise capital for construction. The shape of that entity is yet to be determined.

Areas of focus for the feasibility study include:

  • Economic and environmental viability of various irrigated land use options
  • Assessing likely demand for irrigation and other water uses,and timing of uptake
  • Scheme commercial structure and funding options
  • Scientific modelling, study of environmental impacts and opportunities
  • Regional Plan implications, environmental limits, water allocation and efficiency
  • Exploratory geotechnical drilling at proposed dam sites
  • Understanding more about regional benefits and social impacts
  • Identifying cultural opportunities and risks
  • On-going community engagement

Exploratory drilling begins

Greg Ordish of the Wairarapa Water Use Project with Sid and Barry Kempton, owners of ‘Elm Grove’ near Greytown, one of the three farms involved in the case studies.

Exploratory drilling at the proposed Black Creek and Tividale sites is underway as part of further investigations into the suitability of locations as dam sites. Over the next two months core samples of rock from below the ground will be extracted for geotechnical assessment. 

Other fieldwork over the coming months will assess the land-based and aquatic ecology of the storage sites and surrounding areas.

Land Use Field Days: 12, 14, 20 April

To help understand land use options, six irrigated land uses on three Wairarapa dryland farming operations are initially being assessed - arable/seeds, dairy, apples, sheep dairy, livestock finishing and a mixed use of livestock/arable/market gardening.

Based on actual market conditions for farm produce, each case study assesses financial viability under irrigation, on-farm nutrient impacts, and the management and lifestyle implications of changing from current un-irrigated land uses. 

Field days to discuss the results of the studies and what they mean for changing to irrigated land use will be held on the three Wairarapa farms involved in the study on 12, 14 and 20 April. Details follow next month.

The field days lead up to an independent survey of farmers and growers in May to gain a broad understanding of their collective demand for water and interest in investing in irrigation.  The survey results will help determine scheme feasibility and possible ownership/operating structures.

Water availability

Following on from spot gauging carried out last summer, real-time monitoring gauges have been set up in the rivers that would supply the stored water at times of high flows – the Wakamoeaku Creek (Black Creek scheme) and the Tauweru River (Tividale scheme). Data collected will increase understanding of the hydrology in those catchment areas - water availability, flow dynamics (high and low), and influences of tributaries and rain events.  The monitoring will also help determine the Tauweru River’s suitability for transporting water to users in eastern and southern parts of Wairarapa.

Learning from others

The Wairarapa Water Use Project is sharing information with and learning lessons from water schemes already operating or being developed around New Zealand.  Click the links below to see what’s happening in other developing projects.

North Otago Irrigation Company

Central Plains Water

Hunter Downs Irrigation

Ruataniwha Water Storage Scheme

Waimea Community Dam