Flaxbourne scheme over another hurdle

CATHIE BELL
Last updated 11:30 04/03/2014
Flaxbourne irrigation
Proposed: Flaxbourne community irrigation scheme (not to scale)

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The Marlborough District Council has given conditional approval to finance the Flaxbourne Community Irrigation scheme, recouping the money through an annual rate from participants.

The $26.1 million scheme proposes damming the Flaxbourne River to irrigate about 2200 hectares of farmland.

The cost to landowners has been estimated at $10,300 per hectare for a base allocation of 2250 cubic metres and additional water at $1.87 a cubic metre above the base allocation. The additional water would be subject to first level restriction in the event of a shortage in water supply, thus would be less reliable.

It was proposed that the council would own and operate the Flaxbourne irrigation scheme in a similar manner to the Southern Valleys Irrigation Scheme, with finance provided by either the council or an alternative provider. Any finance provided by the council would be secured by rates.

A report to the council said the proposal depended on many factors yet to be finalised, including sufficient landowner commitment, finance, geotechnical investigations and regulatory consents.

"FCIL have been heartened by the initial support received for the scheme and believe that it is worth pursuing with the scheme proposal through to the next stage.

"It is mindful that the initial commitment will need to be supplemented with further parties willing to invest in the spare capacity of the scheme to be recovered by future water demand."

Councillors agreed to signal conditional support to the Flaxbourne Irrigation Scheme and would include it for public consultation in the 2014-15 Draft Annual Plan for consultation.

Wairau Awatere ward councillor Geoff Evans said he was very pleased councillors had given the scheme support.

"It is going to be good for Marlborough and for Ward. It's excellent."

The Flaxbourne Community Irrigation scheme project team were working with government officials and others to get support for the scheme.

It hoped to have completed feasibility, redesign and cost estimates with funding secured for construction of scheme by the end of 2014. Next year would see it apply for resource consents and the awarding of the contract, and with an 18-month building timeframe, it could be operational by the 2017 or 2018 irrigation season.

$26m irrigation scheme gains support

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- The Marlborough Express

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