Big irrigation merger plan

MATTHEW LITTLEWOOD
Last updated 05:00 11/12/2013

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Opuha Water is proposing a major restructure of its operations, merging all the irrigation schemes it provides water to.

The company is responsible for overseeing the Opuha Dam, which serves 239 irrigators over a 16,000 hectare area.

The various separate schemes below the dam are all governed by their own board entities.

Currently, the company provides water to Levels Plain Irrigation, Kakahu Irrigation, Totara Valley Irrigation, and some members of the South Canterbury Farmers Irrigation Society. The four entities each have boards with up to six members.

Chief executive Tony McCormick has proposed merging the separate entities into Opuha Water. This would mean the schemes would be served by one board with seven members.

Mr McCormick said the restructure would cost "several hundred thousand dollars in legal fees", but it was a "one-off expenditure".

"It's about simplifying and streamlining our operations. Currently, the set-up is overly complex," he said.

Mr McCormick said the restructuring would also make it easier to deal with irrigators who breach their consent conditions.

"The company will be able to respond directly, rather than having to go through separate entities. It means our water management is more integrated," he said.

"This restructure is imperative for us to be able to achieve the best for our irrigators and the environment," he said.

Mr McCormick said water entitlements would be protected under the new arrangement, while there would also be protections for those who farmed off the scheme through infrastructure shares.

"The idea of combining into one entity has been mooted since the farmers bought the Opuha Dam in 2006. It's been a long time coming," he said.

The proposal will go to shareholders for approval.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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