Newsletters - Opuha Water Limited

22012018. News. Photo: Mytchall Bransgrove/Timaru Herald. Opuha Water ceo Andrew Mockford.
Reporter: Al Williams

Newsletter – February 2018

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Please find attached our February 2018 newsletter.

In this issue we provide an update on the company’s current status in both the environmental and operational space.

We also introduce you to our new CEO, Andrew Mockford.   

Andrew’s contact number is 021 333 043 and he would welcome any calls.  Alternatively feel free to drop by the office and introduce yourself if you have the opportunity.

To read this newsletter, please download the PDF version here:

adobe-pdf-logoOWL Newsletter Feb 18


Newsletter – December 2017

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Once again, I seem to be needing to start my newsletter with a “who would believe the conditions!?” This season we have seen an almost unprecedented (certainly in my time at Opuha) swing in conditions from very wet to extremely dry in a very short time. This swift shift in conditions resulted in a very rapid increase in irrigation demand from virtually zero in early November up to near 100% four weeks later. This required some very special efforts from our Ops team to get the schemes up to full capacity in such a short time and presented some unforeseen challenges which I will explain later.

In this newsletter we provide an update on our storage situation and our recent operational challenges and advise of a very significant milestone in the Healthy Catchments Programme which we believe all shareholders need to be aware of. I’ve included some comment on water metering, flood flows and a request for your assistance as we head into the Xmas/New Year season. There’s some information on our new lake operating regime and we also have advice of some shares available for lease.

I expect this will be my last newsletter as I hand over to the incoming CEO, Andrew Mockford, on the 15th January. I will be around for a couple of weeks from the 15th as part of a handover process to Andrew.

On that basis I would like to wish you all the best for the Xmas and New Year period and onward into the season and seasons ahead. It has been an absolute pleasure and privilege to lead your cooperative over the last (nearly) seven years. We’ve achieved some good things and also faced some real challenges in that time. There is no doubt there are still plenty of challenges ahead for all of us – especially as we adjust to the changing regulatory, political and social environment in which we must operate. I am confident that Opuha has a good foundation (a single, united cooperative; a robust Farm Environment Plan programme; a very competent and informed Board and a very capable team headed by an enthusiastic CEO, to ensure the best outcomes for our shareholders.

To read this newsletter, please download the PDF version here:

adobe-pdf-logo171219 December 2017 newsletter


Newsletter – September 2017

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Two weeks ago conditions were so wet everywhere I would have said “nobody’s even thinking about irrigation” but then we had a few days of nor’ west conditions that had us rethinking. Now, with the very wet conditions we’ve experienced over the week we’re not really expecting any water orders any time soon.

We’ve had quite an eventful period since June’s newsletter – both in the catchment, ‘behind the scenes’ (aka the OTOP Healthy Catchments Programme) and also organisationally.

In this newsletter we update on the hydrology and storage situation and what’s been happening around the catchment and the scheme; we’ve some changes at the Board table to advise you of as well as pending changes as I am departing our great little organisation; I’ll update on how we’re tracking commercially; there’s an AGM coming up with a few things associated with that and there is A LOT going on in the Healthy Catchments Programme (HCP) space. I cover off the key points of the HCP and Julia has prepared a separate comprehensive update for you which accompanies this newsletter.

To read this newsletter, please download the PDF version here:

adobe-pdf-logo170916 September newsletter


Newsletter – 19/06/2017

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It’s obviously all quiet on the irrigation front but there is still plenty of activity in our sphere of business – most especially to do with the Land & Water Regional Plan/Canterbury Water Management Strategy (LWRP/CWMS) which, in our Zone, is referred to as the Healthy Catchments Project. (HCP).
While we realise that some of you are directly involved in this process through your catchment group activities or may have attended the recent series of public meetings, we’ll provide an overview of the process and our view on that.
Nothing startling on the water storage situation (that’s good!) but we’ve got an update nonetheless.
Water metering is still on our agenda and we are expecting that everyone will be aware of the company’s policy requiring metering and telemetry for all takes over 5 l/s. By our reckoning, there are about 60 water users who don’t appear to have metering and telemetry information that we can access so we will be following up to ensure either you have plans in place or, alternatively that you would like us to manage the upgrade for you to ensure everyone has the right equipment installed for next season.

To read this newsletter, please download the PDF version here:
adobe-pdf-logo170616 June newsletter


Newsletter – 18/03/2017

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Greeting to you all.  It seems, from our side of the ditch at least, that it has been a relatively good season for most of our shareholders with the weather providing good growing conditions and the lake storage levels remaining good enough to ensure a reliable irrigation supply when required.  We anticipate that for many of you, the very good rain in the middle of March may well signal the end of your irrigation for the season.

We’ve chosen to concentrate the majority of this newsletter to environmental management and in particular our activities under our own ‘Healthy Catchments Project’.

To read this newsletter, please download the PDF version here:
adobe-pdf-logo170318 March 2017 newsletter

adobe-pdf-logo20170307 Environmental Policy_FEP Audit Charging

Environment Canterbury is hosting two community meetings to share information about the effects of shallow groundwater takes on river flows (stream depletion) in the Opihi and Temuka catchments and Levels and Seadown Plains area.  The dates for these meetings are:

  • Monday 20th March (10am-11.30am) at the Geraldine Domain Pavilion
  • Wednesday 22nd March (6.30-8.00pm) at the Pleasant Point Rugby Club

Please download the flyer below for further information.

adobe-pdf-logoOTOP Stream depletion meetings advert March2017




Newsletter – 20/12/2016

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What a difference 12 months can make? The common view around our farming region appears to be “it’s never looked better” and we are sitting on maximum storage in the lake as we approach Xmas. In 2014 we were at 41% storage and last year 66% and irrigating flat out. Current water orders equate to around 40% demand and that has only just kicked up after a quiet October and November (11% and 7% respectively). The commissioning of the upgrade to the downstream weir has had a significant impact on our lake storage regime with the additional confidence in maintaining the lake level at or above 100%.
In this newsletter I’ll update on our water storage with an optimistic outlook for the season ahead, and then provide updates on a number of current issues and initiatives including outcomes from our recent AGM, the downstream weir upgrade, our work programme around the Sub-Regional Plan process (ECan’s ‘Healthy Catchments Project’), water metering, water ordering, Board membership and staffing. There is also a notice and attached letter relating to use of private information.


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Water Restrictions Update #1 – 29/09/2016

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To All Opuha Water Users 

Despite the very full lake (we are currently 103% full) there are still concerns about the overall conditions in the catchment – especially the low level of snow pack compared with normal conditions. Up until the light but widespread rain we have experienced over the last week, soil moisture conditions were also comparatively low. We have allowed the lake level to rise to its current very high level since we have completed the installation of the new spillway gates on the downstream weir.

We have met with the OEFRAG group and the consensus was that we are much better to take a conservative approach to the season and start with a low level of restriction in October in both the river and for irrigation use.


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Newsletter – 25/07/2016

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We’ve just passed mid-year and this newsletter provides an update on our water storage situation which has had a real shot-in-the-arm from the nor’ west rain into the top of the catchment earlier this month. We’re now looking for some decent snowfall to provide us with the reserve and confidence we need to start the next season.

The newsletter also contains some advice on meetings with various shareholder groups over the next few weeks, an update on the budget and water charges for this year and there are a number of water share parcels that are being put up for sale and lease.

Work on the upgrade of the Downstream Weir has continued to move along and there is a brief update on this project included.

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Environmental Management Update – 11/07/2016

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There has been a lot going on in the environmental arena recently – at a regional policy level, as well as a local scheme level. 

In this newsletter we would like to update you on these matters as they will impact you all – for some this impact will be immediate, for others it will be in the longer term.  It can sometimes be easy to ‘keep your head down and hope it blows over’ when it comes to environmental regulation, but the bottom-line is it will affect everyone.  We therefore encourage you to please read the newsletter carefully and consider what this means to your farming operation, and what your next move needs to be.

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Newsletter – 19/05/2016

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It has been a while since our last communication in mid-March when we were advising of the need for some interim restrictions to limit the lake drawdown.

Since that time we’ve seen a continuation of dry and warm conditions which have resulted in reduced lake inflows and calls from a few irrigators for some water to irrigate – very unusual to see those conditions in May!  As I write this, it looks like we might be in for a bit of a lashing over the weekend which I expect will make it feel more like autumn/winter.

In this newsletter, I will update on the conditions up at the lake as our irrigation season concludes and also introduce some very important water policies that have been signed off on by the Board.  Work has started up at the dam site on the upgrade of the Downstream Weir and there is an update on this project included.

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160519 Newsletter incl Water Policies


Water Restrictions Notice #10 – 11/03/2016

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We have approval to reduce the river flows back from the prescribed March and April flows but we are also looking for some reductions in irrigation use with the 25% restriction.  We are going to operate this again on a volumetric basis over the remaining three weeks of March with rolling fortnightly reviews.

I realise this is at odds with the advice that I gave at the beginning of February when it did look like there was sufficient storage.  The inflows dropped dramatically around the whole catchment at the end of February and into March so that we are now releasing significantly more than anticipated to maintain flows and irrigation supplies.  The catchment inflows are now less than for the same period last year.

All irrigators are to please plan their water use to limit their takes to a 75% allocation for the three weeks to the end of March.

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160311 Water Restriction Notice 10

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Water Restrictions Notice #9 – 03/02/2016

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The rain events in January have had a significant (positive!) impact on the lake storage and we have now lifted all restrictions on irrigation and river flows.

Although we will continue to monitor conditions closely, we are reasonably confident that we will now be able to maintain full irrigation supply and river flows for the remainder of the season.  This is the first time since December 2014 that we have not been operating with some constraint on either irrigation supply or river flows – great news and a very surprising turnaround from our position at New Year.

We have included some additional important information in the attached notice, including an update on the appointment of a new Chairman for the Opuha Board that was decided on Tuesday.

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160204 Water Restriction Notice 9

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Water Restrictions Notice #8 – 21/01/2016

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Shareholders and Irrigators
The rain events we have had in January, but in particular the high rainfall on the 19th, had a very positive impact on the lake storage.  We are now very confident of our ability to be able to maintain continuous supply through to the end of the season but we are taking a precautionary approach at this stage as far as lifting restrictions altogether.

Irrigators should aniticpate resuming initially on a 75% allocation but can be confident that this is the highest level of restriction we should need to get through the season.  We will review this regularly with a view to easing restrictions as soon and as far as we can.

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160121 Water Restriction Notice 8

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Water Restrictions Notice #7 – 24/12/2015

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Shareholders and Irrigators
As we had signalled in our previous update, we have moved to a 50% restriction regime effective from 23rd December – we anticipate this regime may need to remain in place right through January.  

Despite the rain on the 16th and 17th which saw 20mm-30mm across the catchment, the drawdown on the lake is still significantly higher than last season as we would be quickly using up the buffer in lake storage we have been able to establish through the earlier restrictions and reduced river flows we have implemented this season.  The 50% restriction regime will be on a volumetric basis which seems to be providing better flexibility to many of our irrigators.

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151224 Water Restriction Notice 7

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Water Restrictions from 23/12/2015

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Shareholders and Irrigators

At the last update we advised that we were anticipating the need to move to a 50% regime from 23rd December.  This note is to confirm that we will be implementing this new restriction and we would expect all users below the dam to be on a 50% regime by 6pm on Wednesday 23rd December 2015.  The rain last week provided some reprieve – both to farmers and to the lake – but inflows are still around 20% below last December and water use is higher so we are using the lake storage at a greater rate than last season.

Attached is a summary report which has been prepared for tomorrow’s OEFRAG meeting – for your information.

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151221 OEFRAG Update

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Water Restrictions Notice #6 – 11/12/2015

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Shareholders and Irrigators
Please refer to the attached Water Restriction Notice which outlines our expectation that we will move to a 50% regime in the week before Xmas – most likely 23rd December.
Conditions have deteriorated with inflows especially dropping of dramatically.  While we have been able to establish a buffer in the lake storage compared with last season, we are now drawing down the storage at a greater rate than this time last season. If we are to improve the likelihood of maintaining some level of continuous supply through the season, we regrettable believe we need to move to 50% earlier than the New Year.  We will confirm this at the start of the Xmas week, but we would need a substantial rain to postpone the need for this next level of restriction.

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151211 Water Restriction Notice 6

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Water Restrictions Notice #5 – 01/12/2015

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We have been operating through November with an irrigation allocation based on 75% of monthly volume for below dam users.  Out final assessment is that total irrigation use averaged 70% for the month which is a good outcome and the intention is to continue on into December with the same constraint – ie. all users below dam should base their monthly water use on using no more than 75% of their volumetric entitlement.

We do need to signal now though, that we believe it is highly likely we will be operating on a 50% allocation regime from the start of the New Year.

To read this newsletter, please download the PDF version here:
adobe-pdf-logo151201 Water Restriction Notice 5

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Water Restrictions Notice #4 – 20/11/2015

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Shareholders/Irrigators – Please refer to the attached Water Restriction Notice.  We are running very close to our 75% limit on a month to date basis and the recent increase in irrigation use suggests that there is a need for some restraint to conserve the storage.  The notice outlines that already it is evident that the catchment inflows are less than last year and that we will need to continue to restrict water use if we are to avoid a full cessation in supply as occurred last year.

We have sent out notices today to individual irrigators who, based on our water order information, will need to wind back significantly to remain within the 75% cap.  It is important to note that for the majority of our irrigators we actually RELEASE water from the dam based on the water orders – so it is essential that your water order reflects intended use. As is our long standing policy – if you have ordered it, you are deemed to have used it.

To read this newsletter, please download the PDF version here:
adobe-pdf-logo151120 Water Restriction Notice 4

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Water Restrictions Notice #3 – 29/10/2015

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Since we lifted water restrictions two weeks ago, the irrigation demand and water use have skyrocketed to a peak level only exceeded one other time in the previous three seasons.  We realise that conditions have been dry around the scheme and there is a lot of concern about the season ahead, however I feel we need to implement a level of restriction if we are to stay on track with our objective of maintaining supply right through the season.

For the month of November, irrigators are required to moderate their water use to use less than 75% of their volumetric allocation for the month.  

To read this newsletter, please download the PDF version here:
adobe-pdf-logo151029 Water Restriction Notice 3

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Water Restrictions Notice #2 – 12/10/2015

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OEFRAG met on 12th October and there was agreement to lift all irrigation restrictions for the next (fortnight) period. This takes effect immediately. The minimum river flow required has been lifted slightly to 7 cumecs (a reduction of 1.5 cumecs on the ORRP minimum).

Given that conditions do vary somewhat around the scheme and depending on individual land type and land use, we are not expecting all our irrigators to be going to 100% irrigation but I would expect everyone will be doing what is necessary to maintain soil moisture levels and to ensure the best opportunity is taken of the current favourable growing conditions. We do still expect a very ‘tight’ year and we will continue to review conditions and any restrictions on a regular basis.

To read this newsletter, please download the PDF version here:
adobe-pdf-logo151012 Water Restriction Notice 2


Water Restrictions Notice #1 – 01/10/2015

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As I have indicated in recent newsletters, we are taking a very pre-cautionary approach to managing the water storage this season and we expect to operate under a ‘managed regime’ at least for the early part of the season when we have more potential for greater savings overall with less impact on irrigators.

Consistent with that message, we are seeking the cooperation of all our irrigators in managing their water use at this time.  We will be attempting to keep up with the conditions around the region, both on-farm and in-river and adjusting our position accordingly to account for changing conditions and requirements.

To read this newsletter, please download the PDF version here:
adobe-pdf-logo151001 October 2015 Water Restriction Notice

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Newsletter – September 2015

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We have started the irrigation season (1st September) but, as with most years, we are not anticipating any real irrigation demand this month. I will explain in this newsletter how we intend to manage the storage and irrigation requirements at this early part of the season – no surprise to most of you that we will be taking a very precautionary approach.

In this newsletter I will provide updates on the lake storage, the start of the irrigation season and the progress with the investigations into the contaminant claims. I cover a few things that are happening up at the dam – current work and our plans for next year.
We have an opportunity for some irrigation management training for those who have not done this very successful course previously and we’re also in the market for an Operations and Asset Manager – see overleaf for details.

To read this newsletter, please download the PDF version here:
adobe-pdf-logo150915 September 2015 Newsletter

snow estimate pic

Newsletter – August 2015

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The Board of Opuha Water and I believe it is appropriate to resume more regular update to our shareholders as we approach spring and the new irrigation season. As well as the newsletters, we will be posting regular updates on our website where you will be able to see the lake level and also our estimates of relative snowpack in the upper catchment.  I will aim to provide regular newsletters to report primarily on water storage and our outlook for the season ahead and also update on other relevant matters.

In this newsletter, you will find updates on:
1. The current water storage situation
2. Discussions with ECan about sediment sampling protocols
3. Our usual round-up of Operations and Environmental activities, shares available and other news
4. Our recent Infrastructure Group meetings
5. Some further shareholder feedback meetings proposed for this month

To read this newsletter, please download the PDF version here:
adobe-pdf-logo150814 – Newsletter – August 2015