Strategic water management study to take place

27 Feb 2015, 8:30 AM

A strategic water management study of the Northland region is to be commissioned to identify areas where water supply and potential water infrastructure could deliver economic growth and other benefits.

Watergushing over rocksThe study is an important step in a joint project involving the Northland Regional Council, economic development agency Northland Inc and the Ministry for Primary Industries' (MPI) Irrigation Acceleration Fund. A tender process has recently begun to seek a specialist provider to carry out the water management study.

The study will look at the potential demand for irrigation water, identify ways to improve management and use of current available water resources, identify the economic costs and benefits of water storage and irrigation development, and highlight potential infrastructure development opportunities for future consideration.

The project had its beginnings when Northland Inc promoted the concept of a study focusing on the potential economic benefits of better water management in Northland to MPI and the regional council.

Minister of Primary Industries Nathan Guy subsequently encouraged Northland communities to apply to access the Irrigation Acceleration Fund during a visit to the region during last year's drought. The study was also noted as an opportunity in the recently-released Tai Tokerau Northland Growth Study.

Northland Regional Council chairman Bill Shepherd says there are a number of potential benefits from carrying out a major review of water storage, water supplies and irrigation potential.

"From a resource management perspective, the issue of fresh water quantity and availability has been highlighted as a significant focus during our regional plan review process, including stakeholder workshops last year."

The study is targeted to be complete by September, to allow decisions on future steps to be made before the end of the year.

Mr Shepherd noted that Northland's share in the project to date had been funded through the Northland Regional Council's Investment and Growth Reserve. However, any future work is expected to also require investment from stakeholders who are likely to benefit.