Central Plains Water Trust has obtained all necessary Resource Consents from Environment Canterbury (ECan) and Selwyn District Council (SDC) to construct and operate a 60,000ha surface water irrigation scheme in July 2012.  Since obtaining these original consents there have been some major changes to the Scheme design, as summarised in the below table.  The Resource Consents include to take water (including during winter for on-farm storage), to use water, access to the riverbeds and all of the relevant consents required for construction including Environmental Construction Management Plans for controlling noise, dust and erosion control etc. during construction activities.



The ‘Take’ consents were lodged for both the Rakaia and Waimakariri Rivers in December 2001.  The ‘Use’ consent was lodged with 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 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 consent for ‘run of river’ takes totaling 65 cumecs of water.

  1. 25 cumecs from the Waimakariri River
  2. 40 cumecs from the Rakaia River, this includes –
  • 6 cumecs from a Synlait Band 2 consent and 3 cumecs of subservient water
  • There is also 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.)


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 River;
  3. The 24 cumecs are shared 1:1 with the Waimakariri River, so to take 24 cumecs there need to be 48 cumecs available above the 65 cumec base flow, i.e. 113 cumecs of total 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.


Rakaia Consent Details

Additional to the 6 cumecs of Subservient Band 2/3 water the consent for 40 cumecs was granted but the availability depends on other river users.  Providing the total allocable flow of 70 cumecs is available, and assuming all existing consent holders are taking, the water available to 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 CRC167216 (formerly CRC061970), which encompasses the take and use of water from the Waimakariri River and the Rakaia River.   As part of the consent requirements, CPW 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 60,000ha 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.