Two relatively small irrigation schemes in North Otago bring big benefits:
An estimated $77 million a year has been pumped into the North Otago economy from irrigation schemes in the Kurow-Duntroon area, $70 million more than if the area had stayed dry.
A report commissioned by the Waitaki Irrigators’ Collective Ltd (WIC) said the schemes – both owned privately and by two companies – had created 150 jobs in the immediate area and another 360 jobs in the Waitaki region. . .
The study covered 8000ha of irrigated land from the the Maerewhenua District Water Resources Company and Kurow-Duntroon Irrigation Company (formerly the Upper Waitaki company), as well as private, independent schemes.
WIC policy manager Elizabeth Soal said the study was also prompted by changes in technology, new demands for water and pressure to increase efficiency of use.
Already, some change had occurred. The Maerewhenua scheme had expanded its command area from 800ha to more than 2000ha, and was also returning some of the water being used now to the Maerewhenua River. . .
The report found irrigation in the Kurow and Duntroon area directly contributed $77 million of revenue to the local economy annually, compared to about $7 million without irrigation. That led to flow-on benefits of $106 million of revenue annually for the district and $327 million of revenue for New Zealand a year, compared with $14 million and $30 million respectively, if there was no irrigation.
There were 180 full-time positions in the study area, but there would only be 30 without irrigation.
Irrigation in that area had created 360 additional jobs at the district level, and 1150 at the national level.
The social impacts of irrigation included stable primary school rolls in the study area compared with declining rolls in the Waitaki district, a higher proportion of the population in full-time employment, and a significant increase in building consent activity over the past 10 years, all of which indicate economic activity was on the increase. . .
These positive results from irrigation can be seen with other schemes in North Otago and further afield.
Without it we’d be plagued by recurring droughts.
Now when droughts come we can still grow grass and crops, feed stock, produce food, earn money, employ staff, pay for services and buy supplies all of which spreads the benefits well beyond the farm gate.