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Hurunui Water Project

The Hurunui Water Project proposes to create large scale water storage and irrigation in North Canterbury by building a weir in Lake Sumner to trap 27 million cubic metres of water and to build a 75-metre high dam in the south branch of the Hurunui River, creating a 7 km long lake. Consent application documents and other information can be found on the Environment Canterbury website.

Who is involved

The Board of the Hurunui Water Project includes representatives from the Hurunui Irrigation and Power Trust (HIPT), Mainpower and Eskhead Station.

  • The Hurunui Irrigation and Power Trust (HIPT) represents the interests of more than 200 Hurunui farmers who formed a trust in 2002 to look at the opportunities for using water in the district.
  • Ngāi Tahu Property Until October 2009 was represented on the board. The property company has resigned its board position and put its shares in trust. This allows Ngāi Tahu time to consider their water interests more widely¬†from a neutral position. Has interests in the sustainable management of the soil and water resources of the Hurunui District together with satisfying the wider interests of Te Runanga o Ngāi Tahu, Ngāi Tuahuriri and Kaikoura runanga.
  • Eskhead Station is the location of one of the water storage sites the Hurunui Water Project is proposing. The owner of Eskhead Station supports the project and has provided development assistance.
  • Mainpower has an interest in the regional development of the Hurunui District and in hydro generation possibilities.
  • AL Resources is the project management company implementing the Hurunui Water Project. The CEO and lead consultant is Amanda Loeffen.

Key information about the Canterbury Water Management Strategy

Central Water Management Strategy
A new framework for managing Canterbury water use. Led by Environment Canterbury, Ngai Tahu and Canterbury's district and city councils. This is a very simple website
Canterbury Water pages from Environment Canterbury have more detailed information on how the strategy actually works and is managed.

What is proposed

The project is centred on an area of around 42,000 hectares in the Hurunui and Upper Waipara catchments. It has the potential to supplement the existing AICL Balmoral Scheme supplied via the Hurunui River, and provide water for irrigation in non irrigated areas adjacent to the Balmoral Scheme, the Hawarden area, Scargill Valley, North Waipara, Masons Valley and Omihi. Investigations since 2003 have led the project to focus on twin storage sites at Lake Sumner and the South Branch of the Hurunui River.

The project has engaged experts to calculate the exact volumes of water flowing throughout the year, and the total volume needed to irrigate the land in question. These reports will be shared on the Hurunui Water Project website. The scheme proposes to use up to 2 metres of Lake Sumner's natural lake level variation of around 3.5 metres. This could be controlled by use of a small weir at the outlet, allowing storage that may have the potential to maintain water flow in the Hurunui at close to normal and even supplement the flows of nearby rivers that are currently struggling.

Other Views

Our Water Our Vote
Protest group for citizens committed to long term action to restore democracy in Canterbury and to protect its water resources and the environment from dams, and abstractions and intense land uses that would further challenge all citizens’ access to clean and safe water.
Federated Farmers
National organisation for farmers.
White Water Canoe Club
Kayaking club based in Christchurch.
Fish and Game North Canterbury
Represents and manages recreational fishing.

Conservation Orders and Resource Consents

Check the Environment Canterbury website for the latest on the Hurunui Water Project's consent applications.