The Amuri Irrigation Company (AIC) is constructing a new pipe network to improve irrigation practices in the region.
“It’s about finding the most efficient use of the resource ” general manager Andrew Barton said.
“Now we will use all our water. Open races leak and the way the water was taken from the race, there was always some water wasted. The pipe is far more efficient.”
AIC estimated shareholders lost around 30 per cent of the water from the races which led to the decision to invest in upgrading to a pipe scheme.
AIC are still taking the same amount of water under their consent but, due to the efficiency, will service an extra 4,700 hectares, bringing the total area supplied by the new network to 27,000ha.
Further water reduction has been achieved on farm with over 15,000ha already converted from borderdyke irrigation to more efficient spray irrigation over the past ten years.
In February 2016, the majority (95%) of existing shareholders voted to proceed with a pipe upgrade for the Waiau and Balmoral schemes.
The total budget for upgrading to a piped scheme is $85M, with a $60M pipe contract awarded to Monadelphous for pipe supply and installation.
The 12-month project started in September 2016 and is still scheduled for completion in September. Associated works including booster pumping, ponds, canals, pipe extensions and other costs are not covered by the initial Monadelphous contract.
“The project got behind initially, but May was a big month of laying a lot of pipe to get back on track,” Barton said.
“Two of the three Waiau scheme pipelines are almost complete and then the focus will be on Balmoral.”
Extra capacity has been also installed into the pipe for potential future hydro-electric power generation.
“When we are not irrigating we can use the water moving through the pipes for power generation.
“We are doing some more detailed investigations into hydro power.”
With low demand for irrigation in winter, when power demand is at its peak, Barton said it made sense.
The scheme also boasts some strategically located hydrants to supply water for firefighting purposes.