News - Opuha Water Limited

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

150810 Lake Update

Update on Lake Level 10 August 2015

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As at 10th August, the lake level has reached 67% (387.2m RL). The chart indicates that are below the historical average for August of 76% (388.4m RL) and below the level at the same time last year 82% (389.1m RL). However, the increased rate of fill over the last week is encouraging although the cold temperatures have eased the inflows back over the weekend.

We have been able to maintain the releases from the dam at a minimum of 1.5 cumecs as the lower catchment river flows have maintained adequate flow at Saleyards Bridge. We have had a series of rolling Water Shortage Directions in place through OEFRAG and ECan, that have assisted in maintaining a minimum flow regime at the lake. Our efforts are concentrated on getting the lake as close to 100% full by the end of September as we can.

There is some fresh snow surrounding the lake and on the hills behind the dam. Up until this latest snowfall, there appeared to be even less snow than at the same time last year. We will need to wait for a few days to establish the extent of snowpack top-up from the last few days.

150715 Lake Level Graph

Update on Lake Level 15 July 2015

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As at 15 July, the lake level has reached 55.7% (385.6m RL). The chart indicates that this is still below the historical average for July of 66% (387.1m RL) and below the level at the same time last year 76% (388.4m RL). However, the steady fill of the lake since reaching its minimum level in early March is encouraging.

Releases from the dam have been maintained at a minimum of 1.5 cumecs since March as every effort is made to increase the lake storage with a target of being close to 100% full by the end of September.

There is currently some snow on the hills behind the dam, and more than last year, however (at this stage) it does appear to be a significant amount that would provide some confidence of getting high spring inflows from snow melt.

150619 Snow at the Lake

Newsletter – June 2015

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It has been a while since our last newsletter and this is the first update to you all since we came out of the unprecedented dry summer conditions that, for the first time, saw the lake empty and irrigation cut-off in February.
As I’m writing this, the winter storm and snow is just arriving, so I hope that doesn’t cause any major problems for you all – it’s water in the bank at least!.

In this issue, I will update you on the lake storage situation and also on what we are doing to improve our ability to manage our limited storage should we be faced with another extreme dry summer.
I will also update on a number of operational issues including the major maintenance work at the power station, introduce some of the policy development work we have underway and look ahead at our programme for Farm Environment Plans and some upcoming shareholder meetings.

To read this newsletter, please download the PDF version here:
adobe-pdf-logo20150618 –  Newsletter – June 2015

Industry Agreed Good Management Practices

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Retrieved from

Environment Canterbury today (28/05/2015) welcomed the launch of “Industry Agreed Good Management Practices Relating to Water Quality” by the primary sectors.

Commissioner Tom Lambie, chair of the Matrix of Good Management Governance Group, said the guide represented a milestone in terms of the primary sectors collaborating to help address water quality issues both in Canterbury and throughout New Zealand.

“The Matrix of Good Management project aims to estimate the ‘footprint’ of nitrogen and phosphorus loss for the range of farm systems in Canterbury today, assuming that they are operating at good management practice,” Mr Lambie said.
“This means we need to be clear about what constitutes good management on farms and the guide launched today will go a long way towards achieving that. Good management practice should be the minimum standard for the primary sector. Farm environment plans are central to this.
“Our approach has been to ask the industry partners in the project – DairyNZ, Deer Industry New Zealand, NZPork, Beef + Lamb New Zealand, Horticulture NZ and the Foundation for Arable Research – to consult widely within their sectors to define good management practice,” Mr Lambie continued.
“Over the past 18 months, a great deal of hard work by a large number of farmers and growers has culminated in the definitions of good management practice set out in the guide.”

Tom Lambie paid tribute to the commitment of many organisations and individuals in reaching this point. “It would not have been possible to achieve this milestone of industry-agreed, pan-sector good management practice descriptions without the thoughtful contributions, willingness to listen, and sheer determination of many people from both the Canterbury and national farming community,” he said.

For the new guide, go to

Background – Matrix of Good Management and Good Management Practices
The National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management requires councils to set and manage land uses within limits. One of the outcomes of the Land & Water Forum was that the primary sector should be operating at good management practice (GMP). Focusing on nutrient losses rather than inputs is fundamental to managing within limits.

The purpose of the Matrix of Good Management (MGM) project is to produce industry-articulated GMPs and a set of estimates of nitrogen and phosphorus losses from farms across the range of soils, climates and land uses, operating at GMP.  MGM outputs will be a table of numbers including factors such as soil, climate and farm systems. Combinations of these factors will generate values for drainage below the root zone and nitrogen and phosphorus losses.

In the guide launched today, the primary industries have articulated their vision of GMP. This information, and current practice information, is being modelled using OVERSEER®.

Farmers can compare their nutrient losses, using OVERSEER®, against MGM values, and their practices against agreed GMPs. Zone committees and local communities can use MGM data to inform/test solutions for their areas. Environment Canterbury can use the information in modelling and testing nutrient loads in any catchment.

Primary Sector Agrees Good Management Practices for Farmers

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Retrieved from

Joint statement from: DairyNZ, Horticulture New Zealand, Foundation for Arable Research, New Zealand Pork, Beef and Lamb NZ, Federated Farmers, IrrigationNZ and Deer Industry NZ.

New Zealand’s primary industries are launching a new set of definitions for Good Management Practice relating to water quality tonight (28/05/2015) at Lincoln University.

The document is the result of collaboration between the primary industries, Environment Canterbury and three Crown Research Institutes (AgResearch, Plant and Food Research and Landcare Research). It is a key part of the Matrix of Good Management (MGM) project which is being developed for the Canterbury region.

Federated Farmers’ environment spokesperson Ian Mackenzie who is a member of the cross-sector governance group for the Canterbury MGM project, says the New Zealand public’s concern about water quality and environmental stewardship has made it imperative for farmers to show they are getting land, plant and nutrient management right.

He says this has been defined by a range of primary sector industry groups as “good management practice” in a summary that is “the first of its kind”. “This document goes beyond a list of practices that are good for water quality and outlines a suite of good management practices that all farmers, regardless of sector, are expected to achieve.
“As a first step to get all farmers up to a high standard of environmental awareness, we needed to agree as a sector what good management practice looks like. We have to involve farmers in that process to help us define that in very practical terms. We are now well on the way to getting industry-wide agreement on what ‘good’ looks like in terms of farming that protects water quality.”

Mr Mackenzie says the good management practices detailed in the new document are a comprehensive list of the outcomes that all farmers, wherever they are in New Zealand, could reasonably be expected to achieve.  
“The summary has been prepared over the past 18 months with discussions at farmer workshops and with individual farmers, rural professionals and industry representatives. We’ve tested this with different groups including leading farmers to make sure it’s practical and doable. We want to get some consistency in everyone’s approach to this multi-dimensional topic.

“It’s tough for farmers if they keep getting mixed or confused messages from different bodies. We hope this document will give farmers some certainty on what they need to concentrate on to lift environmental performance. The public can also see the kind of responsible farming practices that are needed to protect water quality,” he says. “This will be an evolving suite of tools and practical measures that the industry can develop as we learn new practices and science.”

Two examples of the good management practices listed in the new guide include:

–  Locate and manage farm tracks, gateways, water troughs, self-feeding areas, stock camps, wallows and other sources of run-off to minimise risks to water quality.
–  Manage the amount and timing of fertiliser inputs, taking account of all sources of nutrients, to match plant requirements and minimise risk of losses.

Mr Mackenzie says the summary has been approved by a cross-sector governance stakeholder group, which includes senior representatives from industry, government and the community.
“The details on how exactly the good management practices will be used and reflected in council plans and policies are still being worked through with everyone. However their successful uptake will need to be underpinned by industry extension programmes for farmers and supported by farm environment plans,” he says.

To view the summary of good management practices, visit

aa Crane at PS DSC_6155

Power Station Out of Service for Transformer Refurbishment

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The Power Station at Opuha Dam is currently out of service on an extended maintenance outage after tests on the main transformer revealed high moisture levels. The transformer has been removed from the site (see photo) to undergo repair and refurbishment at Trustpower’s Highbank Power Station near Methven. It is anticipated the transformer work will be completed in approximately four weeks.  

Nutrient Loss Measurement Tool Upgrade Welcomed

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Retrieved from

Environment Canterbury today welcomed the recent upgrade to the nutrient loss measurement tool, OVERSEER®.

Chief Executive Bill Bayfield said improvements to the irrigation component of OVERSEER® would highlight the significant gains to be made from enhancements to irrigation efficiency.  “It is important to note, however, that while the improvements introduced by OVERSEER® 6.2 will change estimated nutrient loss numbers they will not change the reality with regard to actual nutrient losses,” Mr Bayfield said.

Environment Canterbury is working to help make sure decision-makers are provided with options for dealing with OVERSEER® version changes. “We are committed to working with other councils, the owners of OVERSEER® and industry in seeking solutions to these challenges,” Bill Bayfield said. A plan change later in 2015 will help address them.

“Environment Canterbury wishes to ensure that the focus is on good management practices by farmers and nutrient outputs,” Mr Bayfield said. “OVERSEER® provides a method of benchmarking against good management practices. Its strength is the way it can be used in a relative rather than an absolute way. Our challenge is to develop policy that allows for this.”

Environment Canterbury has moved to assure farmers who have made investment decisions based on previous versions of OVERSEER® that they would not be disadvantaged as a result of these changes.

“The planning framework for land use and water quality interactions is based on management of nutrient outputs rather than inputs,” Bill Bayfield said. “Landowners have maximum freedom to decide how best to manage their land to minimise nutrient losses. This approach, which is of benefit both to farmers and to water quality outcomes, will not change with a new version of the measurement tool.
“It is not Environment Canterbury’s intention to immediately require more farmers to get a consent to farm just because of an OVERSEER® upgrade,” Mr Bayfield concluded. “We will work with individual farmers, industry bodies and zone committees to focus on achieving the outcomes anticipated when the proposed Canterbury Land & Water Regional Plan was drafted.”

For more information on OVERSEER®, go to, or

For information on the proposed Land & Water Regional Plan, go to

OVERSEER® is the management tool that has been selected for estimating nutrient losses from a farming activity under the proposed Canterbury Land & Water Regional Plan.
The OVERSEER® model requires users to enter information about their farming system, such as production, location and soil types.
Based on this information, a nutrient budget is prepared which estimates the long-term average nitrogen loss from a property. 
A nutrient budget is prepared for both the “nitrogen baseline” period (1 July 2009 – 30 June 2013), and the most recent four-year period (the nitrogen loss calculation period). 
Once these budgets have been prepared, the results should be compared against the rules in the proposed Land & Water Regional Plan to determine whether a farming activity is permitted or requires a consent. 
When updates to the OVERSEER® model are made, the most recent version must be used to calculate the nitrogen baseline and nitrogen loss.
Farmers should retain all the farm information/data used to prepare the original nutrient budget because this will be needed to prepare future budgets.

Efficient Irrigation Workshop – 27/05/2015

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Shareholders –

Next Wednesday 27th May, Opuha Water Ltd are hosting an Efficient Irrigation Workshop, in conjunction with three irrigation service providers – HydroServices, Agri Optics and Lindsay. 
This is being held at the Pleasant Point Rugby Clubrooms from 3pm-5.30pm.   

At this workshop you will be able to build on your knowledge of soil water properties and the latest technologies allowing you to irrigate more effectively and efficiently – all very relevant considering the summer we have just encountered and the increasing pressure we are facing to demonstrate we are using the water resource wisely.  Please see the link below to download the flyer for more information. 

Please register for this workshop by email to, or by phoning me on 021 535 174 or 03 614 7801 (office), by Tuesday 26th May.

I look forward to seeing you there.
Julia – Environmental Manager

To read the flyer for the Efficient Irrigation Workshop, please download the PDF version here:
adobe-pdf-logoEfficient Irrigation workshop

Water Restriction Update #11 – 24/03/2015

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Shareholders –
Please find attached a bit of an epistle disguised as a Water Restrictions update. I’ve had to flag my objective of no more than two pages as, in this edition, I offer a bit of reflection on the season so far and in particular the ‘management’ of the lake storage. As with most things, hindsight is a wonderful thing and, with that benefit, I identify a couple of key aspects that may have seen us able to extend the season by several weeks. Bottom line remains however – that without reasonable inflows through the summer season, our lake storage will not be able to provide 100% supply for a full season. The extended bottom line is that this has been an extraordinarily dry year.

It’s four weeks now since we shut off irrigation supply and since that time we have seen the lake continue to fall to within 50mm of zero before a series of small rain fronts resulted in, for the first time in 174 days, the lake actually increasing. We’ve crept up two metres but that only puts us at 3% storage. Our historical average for March is 76%.

We are endeavouring to provide another ‘round’ of irrigation (8-10 days under a 50% restriction regime) before soil temperatures drop too far and at present we are looking at the week after Easter. This is reliant on some further rain over the next two weeks to bolster the lake storage to around 10%. I would ask you all to please consider this in your planning and be prepared to respond to us of your requirements should we be in a position to resume irrigation.

Fairlie Lions have organised a social event for everyone this Friday 4pm at the Mackenzie Rugby Grounds – a great opportunity to get together for a fun and relaxing break. I would encourage you all to try and get along.

To read this newsletter, please download the PDF version here:
adobe-pdf-logo20150323 – Water Restriction Notice #11 – March 2015

Above Dam Users Update – 16/03/2015

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“Above Dam” irrigators  (Nth Opuha, Sth Opuha, upper Opihi and Te Ngawai irrigators)

I expect most of you are aware of the restrictions situation for tomorrow:
North Opuha, South Opuha and Opihi – no restrictions.  I would encourage Sth Opuha to be on as early as possible (midnight would be good!) so we can catch the river while it is up and perhaps avoid the big draw down of the flow if we extend beyond Tuesday midnight with your 24 operation.

Te Ngawai – 50% (swap over?)  Only a small amount of rain Rocky Gully way today so not sure whether the river will hold above 400 by end of the day tomorrow.  

For your info – we are doing some dive inspections at the lake tower tomorrow so won’t be running the power station at all during the day. It doesn’t affect our overall operation (or your irrigation) but just explains the bigger ‘chunk’ we’ve taken from the lake today (see below) to fill up the Reg Pond to get us through the whole day tomorrow.

Regards, Tony McCormick

dam pic2

Above Dam Users Update – 15/03/2015

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“Above Dam” irrigators  (Nth Opuha, Sth Opuha, upper Opihi and Te Ngawai irrigators)

It looks like Opihi and North Opuha can stay on tomorrow and Te Ngawai can come on at an ‘ECan 50%’. I am trying to get the Restrictions Page updated as it looks to me like the Te Ngawai has come up above 500 l/s which would lift the 50% restriction but we will have to wait and see that come through later this afternoon/evening.

South Opuha – you’re currently on restrictions for tomorrow but of course the South Opuha will come up plus 200 – 300 l/s when you stop irrigating. It looks like there is going to be a see-saw/yo-yo situation with your irrigation – on one day off the next. It is a question of whether it is going to stay above 500 l/s through to the afternoon.  I can’t tell when you guys started but it looks like some were on around midnight. Can you please ensure you’re off 24 hours after you started, and no later than 9am in the morning.

Just to finish off – it has been great to see the lake level flatten off and actually increase over the last week but I thought the graph below puts it into perspective. The graphs shows lake level since 1st January. Clearly we have a long way to go yet.

Regards, Tony McCormick

web 2

Above Dam Users Update – 14/03/2015

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“Above Dam” irrigators  (Nth Opuha, Sth Opuha, upper Opihi and Te Ngawai irrigators)

Everything is set for Opihi, Nth Opuha and Sth Opuha to irrigate for 24 hours tomorrow.
Really pleased to see the lake progress today which should provide a good buffer for the next few days. Thanks to Opuha folk for your patience today as I think it will pay off over the next week.
So 24 hours from your start time but no later than 9am. I expect there is a good chance that this might extend for another 24 hours but we will need to see how your tribs hold up for the ECan Restrictions.
South Opuha is probably the most vulnerable – it is quite likely that you may have a day on – day off – day on regime but at least there will be 24 hours blocks for you to be on. Opihi looks to have had a good top up today so that should hold up even with full irrigation.
All Opihi at Rockwood irrigators can move to ‘100%’ as soon as you like (from now). I have the dam releases at absolute minimum and there is still a bit of surplus.

Encouraging to see Te Ngawai lift today to its highest in 3 weeks but still needs a decent nudge to get you guys on.  My intent is to try and maintain all the conditions required so that, as soon as Te Ngawai gets up, you can be on.  I’ll update same time tomorrow.

Regards, Tony McCormick

for web

Above Dam Users Update – 12/03/2015

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“Above Dam” irrigators  (Nth Opuha, Sth Opuha, upper Opihi and Te Ngawai irrigators)

In today’s Restrictions Page issued by ECan the Opihi at Rockwood and North and South Opuhas are all off restriction with regards your tributary flows. The Water Shortage Direction however has a requirement that the lake is at or above 370.5m before you are able to irrigate. We are close to that but under all the same so until we can get a little more into the lake, we aren’t able to irrigate.

The lake has actually held up quite well this week (see below) however we are still releasing more than inflows on a daily basis. The good flow in the Opihi today has enabled us to back off the releases now to 1.6 cumecs to maintain our 2 cumec minimum at Saleyards Bridge so we are trying to capture the benefit of the trib flows albeit on a slightly deferred basis by increasing the lake storage. There are very long lags in the river system under these low flow conditions but we are monitoring all the flows and attempting to anticipate any increased inflows by backing off releases from the dam up to 12 hours ahead of Saleyards Bridge responding.

We are trying to squeeze things as much as possible to try and build that lake reserve both short term (above 370.5m at least to give us enough reserve for a week of river running at our new minimum of 2 cumecs and also enable opportunity irrigation for you) but also long term to firstly try and enable one round of irrigation downstream (current target for that is 374m) and then, obviously, to fill the lake for next season.

I had indicated I would have a general newsletter out earlier this week but I haven’t managed that and this email is intended as an update for your group specifically. I will continue with the newsletter which I plan to complete for tomorrow.

Regards, Tony McCormick

Above Dam Users Update – 06/03/2015

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“Above Dam” irrigators (Nth Opuha, Sth Opuha, upper Opihi and Te Ngawai irrigators)

Here’s a quick update on the situation as it now sites (I have just got off the phone from ECan to get them to delay the update of their Restriction for tomorrow to give the tribs time to pick up a bit more hopefully)

The rain has been heaviest in the north of the catchment so the North Opuha is well up, Sth Opuha is starting to respond now and should sneak through 500 l/s by 5pm (ECan’s Restriction had locked in 495!). It doesn’t look like the Opihi and Te Ngawai are going to get above their trigger (today at least).

The slight problem we have is that the flow at Saleyards Bridge (SYB) is still below our agreed minimum of 2.5 cumecs (it is currently 2.2 cumecs) I cannot release anything from the dam to supplement this (and the way the river is behaving it would take 24 hours to affect SYB) I do expect SYB to pick up over the next 10-12 hours since it will be influenced by the slight increase in the Opihi, Te Ngawai and the Opuha itself has also picked up inflows below the dam.

The lake is currently at 370.05m – i.e. only 50mm above the floor where there would be no irrigation. That represents less than one more days operation at our current minimal discharge. The high inflows from the North Opuha at least should assist in bringing that back up to give us a few days more of operating volume.

So for the irrigators above the dam (Nth and Sth Opuha) we have two out of three:
Your tribs – yes

Lake level – yes (but skin of our teeth)
Saleyards Bridge – not yet

As I mentioned in the email last night (below) the Restriction page refers to tomorrow so that starting tomorrow, you can irrigate for 24 hours as long as we get sufficient flow at Saleyards Bridge.

My recommendation is that you need to wait until tomorrow morning when I hope that SYB flow has climbed +300 l/s to 2.5 cumecs and then be prepared to irrigate for 24 hours. The latest 24 hour window is 9am Sat to 9am Sun. Of course if the river flows all remain above their trigger, then there will be another day available Sunday. It looks like there may be some more rain late Saturday so it might be a two bite process depending on how the rivers hold up over the next 36 – 48 hours.

You can monitor the SYB at but I will update you from 7am in the morning.

I know you will be desperate to get irrigating but the best option and this all probably seems awfully complicated but I do stress that we have been doing our best to enable you all the opportunity and we have a lot of eyes on us since we have required a number of dispensations for this scenario and the lake and the lower Opihi River have NEVER been as low as they are at present since the dam was commissioned.

I will keep you updated as best I can.

Regards, Tony McCormick

Current Restrictions on Irrigation – 04/03/2015

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Irrigators, this is intended as an interim update of the current situation with the lake and irrigation restrictions.

The lake is within days of reaching the zero storage position of 370m. We are trying desperately to keep off this level which is, under the river plan, a trigger level whereby we must reduce the releases to match inflows. If we do get to this stage, it is quite clear the river would run dry in the lower reaches.  Last night we reduced the releases back as far as we think we can to maintain the connection in the lower river. Even with this last effort, we are less than a week away from running out. We are investigating the option of lowering the lake below the 370m level but this will require agreement and support of a number of parties including ECan.  The Water Shortage Direction that is currently in place (effective through to 15th March) has a restriction on all irrigation from affiliated consents.

Looking ahead and “where to from here” with the lake and irrigation opportunities we are trying to determine a regime that will provide an opportunity for at least another ‘round’ of irrigation (I envisage 8-10 days at 50%) before the onset of the late autumn conditions. It is obvious we are going to need a turnaround in weather conditions to do this because under the current conditions there just is not the water to do this.

We are especially conscious of the irrigators who since early January, have been restricted by the minimum flows in their own tributaries (specifically Nth and Sth Opuha, Opihi and Te Ngawai). Under the immediate situation where the lake and river are in such a precarious position we do not believe we can seek dispensation for irrigation if the tributaries were to get up for a short period. This is a possible scenario this weekend. We are however preparing a proposal for discussion on Monday with OEFRAG whereby we can provide some limited relief to these restricted irrigators if certain conditions are able to be achieved. I expect however, that we are going to have to move away from our current lake situation (zero storage and not even able to meet the reduced minimum flow in the river) before that will be possible. We will be looking to enable these restricted irrigators to have some opportunity if their tributaries get up on a short term basis as we build enough reserve to then enable all of the augmented irrigators (including the ‘schemes’) to have the 8-10 day round envisaged.

There does look like there may be some rain through the region at the end of the week/early weekend. Even if the tributaries do rise above their trigger levels we will on this occasion not be able to allow any irrigation at this stage. Hopefully any rain the does eventuate will provide some limited relief directly on the paddocks.

We will continue to try and find a way to provide earliest relief/opportunity to all our irrigators and I will advise you promptly of any favourable change to the operating regime.

Regards, Tony McCormick

Water Restriction Update #10 – 23/02/2015

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Please plan to shut off your irrigation systems this Wednesday.  We have reached the bottom of the bucket. By Wednesday the lake will be at 371m with a little under 1.5% storage remaining. 

As part of the agreement to reduce the minimum river flows in early February, we will cease irrigation and the last remaining storage will be used to try and keep the river flowing for the next 10 -12 days.

To read this newsletter, please download the PDF version here:
adobe-pdf-logo20150223 – Water Restriction Notice #10 – February 2015

Environment Canterbury Welcomes Drought Declaration

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Retrieved from

Environment Canterbury today welcomed the declaration by the Minister for Primary Industries, Hon Nathan Guy, of a medium-scale adverse event from the “big dry”.

Chief Executive Bill Bayfield said the announcement would give the farmers and their families who need it most access to support, and would also highlight the dry weather challenges for farmers to the wider community.

“Our people in the field are working with and supporting farmers every day,” Mr Bayfield said. “We are seeing historic low flows in some of our rivers and very low groundwater levels as well. 
“However, it is crucial that farmers have access to the water they need for stock and for consented irrigation. Access to water for these purposes is top priority both for farmers and for Canterbury’s economy.”

It is important to note that the ability to irrigate is not unrestricted. Almost every river in Canterbury has a minimum flow level which is in place to protect the environment. Water take consent conditions are written to make sure irrigation water takes stop when a minimum flow is reached.

Some groundwater takes are also subject to river low-flow restrictions because they are directly linked to a nearby river or stream. Bill Bayfield said some farmers are able to continue irrigating because they have groundwater takes that are not directly linked to rivers on restriction due to low flows. “If you see irrigation happening near a low-flow river, for example, that may not be having an impact on its flow,” he said.

Groundwater consent holders also have conditions which include the maximum rate of take as well as a total annual volume that can be used.

Most water take restrictions as a result of low river flows are updated daily by Environment Canterbury scientists and are available at www.ecan.govt.nzgo to Irrigation Restrictions in the Get it Done Online section on the home page. If you have a water take and need further advice or have any questions, please contact Customer Services on 0800 324 636.

“If a farmer’s access to stockwater or irrigation water is subject to resource consent conditions, Environment Canterbury will carefully consider those conditions and the individual’s circumstances with the current situation at the front of our minds. Do contact us if you have any issues,” Bill Bayfield said.

“We will do everything we can to help farmers get appropriate access to water at this particularly difficult time. We definitely don’t want to see livestock suffering needlessly.”

Tax Relief for Drought-Affected Southern Farmers

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Revenue Minister Todd McClay today welcomed Inland Revenue’s decision to exercise its income equalisation discretion to help provide relief for drought-affected farmers in the eastern South Island. 
Mr McClay’s comment follows the declaration of a medium-scale adverse event by Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy this afternoon.

“The Government recognises that this will be a difficult time for many affected farmers. This assistance from Inland Revenue will give greater flexibility to affected farmers around their tax obligations, and is designed to make the coming months easier for them as they deal with the effects of the drought,” says Mr McClay.

The income equalisation scheme allows farmers to better manage peaks and troughs in their income by allowing money to be put aside from a better year and withdrawn against a not-so-good year.  Inland Revenue has relaxed these rules by allowing late deposits from the 2014 income tax year to be made up to 30 April 2015, regardless of when the 2014 tax return is filed or the due date for filing that return. Early refunds will also be allowed.
“Clearly tax will not be top of mind for affected farmers right now, however I encourage them to talk to their accountants to consider whether this relief may be helpful in their specific situation,” says Mr McClay.

Affected farmers, and in particular dairy farmers, are also likely to be talking to their accountants about their 2014–15 provisional tax calculations.
Inland Revenue is expected to soon publish details of its response for drought-affected farmers at

Water Restriction Update #9 – 13/02/2015

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We are unfortunately looking very likely to reach the limit of our water storage where we are going to have to shut down all irrigation.  
We are now updating our website with the expected day for shut down which is, at the moment, 25th February.
If we are able to realise any savings through rain/inflows or reduced demand, this date may be able to be extended.

To read this newsletter, please download the PDF version here:
20150213 – Water Restriction Notice #9 – February 2015

Water Restriction Update #8 – 04/02/2015

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There have been hints of rain around the region over the last 5 days which lifted river flows slightly and gave us perhaps a couple of days relief in the lake as we were able to back off the releases for a while.

We have agreed on a revised operating regime which has reduced the minimum flow we are supporting in the river but we are still looking at the high likelihood of having to shut down irrigation around 23rd February.

To read this newsletter, please download the PDF version here:
adobe-pdf-logo20150205 – Water Restriction Notice #8 – February 2015

Water Restriction Update #7 – 27/01/2015

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It will be painfully apparent to you all that there has been no relief from the weather over the last three weeks and our lake storage situation has become very precarious as a result.

We have reviewed our storage predictions and have brought forward our estimation of when we will be faced with tighter restrictions and potentially no supply.

To read this newsletter, please download the PDF version here:
adobe-pdf-logo20150127 – Water Restriction Notice #7 – January 2015

Water Restriction Update #5 – 21/12/2014

Posted by | Newsletters

We appear to have had a short lived but reasonable rain through the catchment on Sunday 21st.  
At this stage though we do not expect this will have sufficient impact at the dam to defer us from continuing with our water saving regime.

The rain will hopefully at least provided some relief on the farm and enable irrigators to recover or maintain their soil moisture levels under the irrigation restrictions.  

To read this newsletter, please download the PDF version here:
adobe-pdf-logo20141221 – Water Restriction Notice #5 – December 2014

Water Restriction Update #4 – 50% from 16 Dec 2014

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The storage has continued to decline and 50% restrictions are to be implemented from Tuesday 16th December for two weeks.  
Please now be prepared to implement a 50% restriction regime on your property.  

Refer to the attached newsletter on the current water storage situation.

To read this newsletter, please download the PDF version here:
adobe-pdf-logo20141211 – Water Restriction Update #4 – December 2014

Notice of Intended Water Restrictions

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Important notice regarding water restrictions that are proposed to be in effect across the Opuha scheme on 1stDecember.
The notice provides important information regarding the preparation for the restrictions and requires each shareholder to consider which of two restriction regimes they are able to operate under most effectively and advise us by next Wednesday if they prefer a rostered schedule with waterless days.  
Please make time to read the notice and consider your best option.

To read this newsletter, please download the PDF version here:
adobe-pdf-logo201411 – Water Restriction Notice – November 2014

Newsletter – November 2014

Posted by | Newsletters

Welcome to the first newsletter of the new irrigation season and just our second newsletter as the new Opuha Water Ltd.
The season has certainly kicked off early this year (early October was one the busiest we’ve seen) and the conditions around the region are reportedly drier than usual.  We are watching our water storage very closely as we have experienced nearly three months of low inflows and there is virtually no snow this year to provide our normal spring seasonal supplies. Our current lake storage level is of some concern.
In this issue I will present a closer look at our water storage position and the potential implications and then update on some important operational, environmental and company matters including the Director elections and upcoming AGM.

To read this newsletter, please download the PDF version here:
adobe-pdf-logoNewsletter – November 2014