Irrigation scheme on target

LARGE SCALE: Rangitata South Irrigation on track for March 2013.
LARGE SCALE: Rangitata South Irrigation on track for March 2013.

The team behind the Rangitata South Irrigation scheme is confident the water will be turned on by March next year.

It is the biggest earth-moving project of its kind in the region since the "Think Big" projects in the early 1980s, but chairman Ian Morten said progress had been as smooth as possible given its scale.

"We're still on target for putting down water in March," Mr Morten said. "There are a lot of rumours floating around about the project being held up, but none of them are true."

The $82 million Arundel-based scheme will irrigate 16,000 hectares of land between the Rangitata and Orari Rivers.

Seven storage ponds will harvest floodwater from the Rangitata when flows exceed 110 cubic metres per second and the ponds' capacity will be 16.5 million cubic metres of water.

He said a lot of work was being done on the construction of the canals, and the lining of irrigation ponds and work on the intake appeared to be on schedule.

Mr Morten said about 38 entities had bought shares in the scheme.

"Aside from the actual construction, the biggest challenge has been putting together a prospectus," he said.

"It has taken us longer than we anticipated, due to the new regulations for financial reporting."

Rooney Earthmoving has been tasked with the construction of the project.

"All the major work is in the hands of the construction firm, and they seem pleased with progress."

The Timaru Herald