Exerpt from article on www.interest.co.nz website:
The Opuha Dam has effectively drought-proofed a large swathe of South Canterbury.
Opuha has been lauded by Labour and National politicians. Even Dr Russel Norman seemed impressed when Federated Farmers hosted him there several years ago. It provides water for farms, an environment for aquatic life, a place to recreate and minimum flows to the formerly summer dry Opihi River.
Economically, it has exceeded all expectations but it also opened back in 1998 and remains our sole example of modern water storage.
For intensive cropping, dairy and horticulture, the benefits of irrigation are self-evident. Yet much irrigation is dependent upon groundwater or river takes and both are affected by drought or just summer.
Capturing and storing water during winter frees irrigators from river takes and groundwater.
Yet water storage is also a breakthrough for drystock farming too. Irrigating even 20 hectares of a farm becomes a pasture generator reducing that climatic lottery we currently have.
According to the ANZ Bank the current drought has already cost New Zealand over a billion dollars. Irrigation NZ estimates this sum, if invested in water storage projects, could future proof Canterbury for the next 100 years.
Like Irrigation NZ, Federated believes the solution lies in a combination of regional and on-farm water storage.
Farmers are smart adaptive people but as our climate will change, isn’t it smarter for public policy to enable the solutions we will all need to meet it?
Read original article here.