When water flows money flows

In the 1980s, 90s and early 2000s I took photos of the Waiareka Valley from Mitchell’s Hill in Enfield.

This is what it looked like with any irrigated land standing out like blots of green ink on parchment.

Thanks to the North Otago Irrigation Company Scheme this is what it looks like now:

The big brown patch is barley, in the distance are dry land hills which stand out against the irrigated paddocks.

Unlike many other areas where irrigation has been curtailed or cut altogether, the NOIC scheme and others in the district which are fed from the Waitaki River keep going. The Waitaki keeps on flowing to generate electricity providing enough water to spare for irrigation and still keep the river above its minimum flow level.

If it wasn’t for so much irrigation in North Otago now the media would have been full of drought stories and Oamaru would be feeling the pinch as farmers stopped spending.

Now enough water keeps flowing in the river to irrigate the land, money keeps flowing into town and the busineses which service and supply farmers.

The economic and social benefits of that are obvious.

The environmental benefit is less obvious but equally valuable.

Water on land keeps pasture growing, protecting soils from erosion. A condition of consent for the scheme was that water was diverted to the Waiareka Creek to keep it flowing. In the past it would have been a series of stagnant pools after so little rain, now it runs clear.

Irrigation has made farming in North Otago sustainable. The economic, environmental and social benefits of that flow through the district.

There are other parts of New Zealand where water could be stored at times of high flow to be used in dry weather but in the current political climate the chances of that happening are slight.


3 Responses to When water flows money flows

  1. adamsmith1922 says:

    Reblogged this on The Inquiring Mind and commented:
    Thanks for this, but I think the current lack of interest in reality in the government means you are probably correct


  2. The Ibenefits of irrigation are obvious to us, Ele. The problem is, you are up against a movement that is essentially anti-human; that sees humanity as a blot on the planet, which they believe is a living organism. They promote veganism, because that would ensure the population dropped rapidly as millions starved world-wide. Anti-irrigation is but one part of anti-modern farming, which feeds the world well. This world-wide movement is well entrenched now it has absorbed the Climate Change campaign, despite being anti-science. I am not sure it can be defeated, but I am at heart an optimist.


  3. Gravedodger says:

    Excellent tale of two landscapes Hp.
    Sadly in the current climate of fake news and opinion masquerading as knowledge, such good news revellations are destined to be ignored
    Even excellent cost benefit analysis will never account for all the benefits you, your farmer and your neighbours experience, yet garbage around polluted streams and erroneous tales of “unfair” wealth gaining fit the narrative for social justice warriors and their MSM enablers, therefore predominate they will
    We owned 560 acres of soils equal to those of Nth Otago back in the day sans a Waitaki water resource available so when the Waipara scheme became a reality we passed up what could well have become a personal debacle from crippling costs on top of already high borrowings so departed stage right. Yes we knew what money and Horticulture including Viticulture might deliver but the massive debt increases and total change of a chosen pathway in agriculture remained a driver to leave the success to others.
    No regrets, but some who stayed did not make a success so relief dominates.
    Now forty years later driving through the Wairau Valley with its ambience of the grape dominant landscape is only truly remarkable to those who recall the danthonia, dry prone, minimal stocked landscapes of years gone by, now only a memory for the more mature.
    It will be the same for those wonderful landscapes you enjoy, now safer from the ravages droughts produce but you and those around you already understand that.

    A fertile vein for a Country Calender to use but the conflict with the official beltway narrative might be a problem for them. Perhaps consulting the snails might be revealing viewing.


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