Greetings to all Shareholders,
1. LOW FLOWS & RELIABILITY
This season has been testing for shareholders, particularly those on the Waiau scheme which has been more restricted than usual. The Hurunui flow has held up relatively well this year relative to the previous two seasons. Didymo made an appearance this year but was successfully managed by Mike.
We have engaged Aqualinc to revisit previous reliability modelling and will circulate this work to shareholders once it is complete. This modelling will inform us of our current reliability and also our future reliability if/when minimum flows are raised in 2018.
Mike and the didymo flushing system
Low flows inevitably turn irrigators minds to storage. We are working on a number of fronts to investigate storage opportunities for the scheme. AIC shareholders are fortunate to have been spared the expense of on-farm storage to date. AIC would like to have centralised water storage available to shareholders. Centralised storage will be optimised for size, and save farmers from losing valuable flat land.
We are a small shareholder in Hurunui Water Project and wait to see what they can offer to the north bank. We recognise that as a small shareholder we do not make or break HWP and cannot control whether or not it proceeds. In light of that we are looking at alternative opportunities to improve the Balmoral scheme reliability. We are also starting to investigate opportunities for the Waiau scheme.
The Beca design has been through several iterations after reviewing by your Board and by Walter Lewthwaite, who was the original scheme engineer. The next version is due shortly, and subject to Board approval, will be summarised and circulated as part of an information pack among shareholders for discussion and feedback. AIC has also asked Beca to investigate integration of north bank infrastructure with a pipe design for the Emu Plains through to Waiareka.
Our application for a land use consent and nutrient load is being considered by ECan. We are currently in the process of preparing further information to answer some questions they have. The information will be provided to ECan at the end of this month.
The land use consent will provide a nutrient load for AIC to manage, which will require efficient irrigation by all existing irrigators and in recognition of that will provide for scheme expansion to use water saved through the optimisation process. We consider that centralised management of nutrients is beneficial for the community and a nutrient load for AIC is an essential part of that.
5. FARM PLANS
Alastair and his team of contractors are making excellent progress with the roll out of Farm Plans and will achieve the deadline of mid-2015. The Farm Plans are all being mapped in GIS which is proving to be very helpful.
We had Ian McIndoe present to border dyke irrigators this month about improving efficiency. Ian is an experienced and well regarded water engineer and provided some very useful insights into improving border dyke systems and management.
Information will be provided to all those who did not attend.
6. NUTRIENT WORKING PARTY/ DRY LAND FARMERS
The working party reported back at the March Zone Committee Meeting. Insufficient Zone Committee members were present to have a quorum which means that the way forward will be discussed again at the meeting on Monday 20/4/2015.
ECan has prepared a draft advice note that may be sufficient to provide dryland farmers comfort through to the 2018 plan change, which is when the 10% rule will be reconsidered.
Modelling was undertaken in our consent application and subsequently by ECan to show that improvements by existing irrigators will create headroom for dryland intensification and AIC has offered to make the surplus headroom available to dryland farmers.
A draft MOU has also been prepared for consideration, which AIC is yet to consider in any detail. AIC is reasonably comfortable with either approach provided that a land use consent is secured for scheme expansion on a non-notified basis, the timing for improvements for irrigators is reasonable, and the cost and risk of a plan change before 2018 is avoided.
The advice note and MOU are included in the Zone Committee meeting (3 pm 20/4Hawarden) agenda: Click here to view
7. ASSET MANAGEMENT
Aqualinc sent a student around the scheme over summer taking photos. The photos are now all on our GIS system and are going to be used for asset management purposes. In time we hope to make GIS available to you on our website.
This year, the Balmoral pond will be cleaned out as well as the Waiau pond. Lateral 3B of the Waiau Scheme will also require cleaning out over winter. Racemen will be in contact with landowners with races that need cleaning or maintenance once the scheme has been shut down.
8. 2018 PLAN REVIEW
In 2018, ECan propose to review the Regional Plan. We are starting to think about this process now and are looking at what we would like to achieve. We have engaged a planning firm to work with us in preparation for the plan change and have started gathering information to assist with key aspects of the plan.
Land use rules are a key part of the plan change. We think that the work of the nutrient working party has paved the way for improved rules in 2018. AIC will continue to engage with the Zone Committee and any related groups on changes to the existing rules.
9. OTHER CONSENT APPLICATIONS
HWP – AIC and the other parties are waiting on the Court to sign off on the agreed resolution.
Ngai Tahu – A second mediation has been held with further work to be done before the parties are likely to reach resolution.
MainPower/Rooney – AIC will submit on this application with respect to minimum flows and allocation limits. The application proposes to transfer B allocation from the Amuri reach to the upper catchment. The Amuri reach only has 5 cumecs of B water allocated to it. Along with Ngai Tahu’s application for B water the MainPower/Rooney applications would take up most of the B block and leave nothing for the Emu Plains or filling storage.
As always, if you have any queries, please do not hesitate to give me a call.