Central Plains Water Ltd has obtained all necessary Resource Consents from Environment Canterbury and Selwyn District Council to construct and operate a 60,000Ha surface water irrigation scheme in July 2012.  The consents cover taking water (including taking winter water for on-farm storage), using water, access to the riverbeds and all the relevant consents relating to the construction stage, i.e. Environmental Construction Management Plans such as noise, dust, erosion control etc.


The ‘Take’ consents were lodged for both the Rakaia and Waimakariri Rivers in December 2001.  The ‘Use’ consent was lodged with Environment Canterbury (ECan) in November 2005.  Both the Take and Use consents were notified by ECan in June 2006.
Land use and Land Designation consents were lodged with the Selwyn District Council (SDC) in May 2006, and were notified in November 2006.
Both consent processes were brought to a single hearing, held between February 2008 and October 2008
The scheme has consents for run of river takes totalling 65 cumecs of water.  25 cumecs from the Waimakariri River, 40 cumecs from the Rakaia River which includes 6 Synlait band 2 and 3 cumecs of subservient water.  There is an agreement with Ashburton Community Water Trust
(ACWT) to share the 36 cumecs of Rakaia water.  If both parties are accessing water, CPWL has the right to take 56% of what is available.

  1. Waimakariri Consent Details
    1. The take from the Waimakariri River was reduced by agreement from 40 cumecs to 24 cumecs;
    2. CPW also has the consent for 1 cumec of Band A water from Waimakariri;
    3. The 24 cumecs is shared 1:1 with the river, so to take 24 cumecs there needs to be 48 cumecs available above 65 cumecs, i.e. 113 cumecs of unmodified flow.
    4. A further rule restricts the ability to take during part of summer when the unmodified flow lies between 80 and 95 cumecs. During that period CPW can only take for 12 hours each day and then at a restricted rate.
  2. Rakaia Consent Details
    1. Additional to the 6 cumecs of Subservient Band 2/3 water the consent for 40 cumecs was granted but the availability depends on other users.  Providing the total allocable flow of 70 cumecs is available, and assuming all existing consent holders are taking, the water available to Ashburton Community Water Trust (ACWT) and CPW is 36 cumecs at 1:1.  This will be shared between CPW and ACWT as per an existing agreement.

Environmental Compliance

The key consents that will ensure the scheme operation does not adversely impact on the environment are the Take and Use consents CRC061973, which  encompass the take and use of water from the Waimakariri River and the Rakaia River.   As part of the consent requirements, CPWL must put in place mechanisms to monitor the effects of the scheme on the environment and to carry out mitigation measures where necessary. These include:

  • Establishing a 6-person Community Liaison Group
  • Establishing an Environmental Management Fund of approximately $160,000 per year (based on 60,000 operational scheme, pro rata for staged development)
  • Establishing a Ground and Surface Water Expert Review Panel (GSWERP)
  • Developing a Ground and Surface Water Monitoring plan outlining the measures undertaken to monitor and mitigate potential adverse effects. The monitoring regime includes sampling from a number of sites, including
    • 20 monitoring sites across the scheme area
    •  8 sites within the lowland streams
    •  4 sites within Lake Ellesmere/Te Waihora – sites at lowland springheads
      • The monitoring regime will monitor water levels and water quality
      • Preparation of individual farm management plans that will incorporate nutrient discharge limits, water management and soil management requirements
      • Independent audits for all farm management plans; and
      • A Scheme Environmental Management Plan (Sustainability protocol)

The full details of the Resource Consents, as well as the Hearing evidence and the Decision Document are available on the Environment Canterbury website –

Hearing Evidence and Decision Document

CRC061972 -CPWL Take Consent

CRCO61973- CPWL Use Consent