August 25, 2008

Tapping the Liquid Gold


Central Plains Water scheme: involves taking water from the Rakaia and Waimakariri rivers and storing it in a reservoir in the dammed Waianiwaniwa Valley. The water will be used to irrigate 60,000ha bounded by the rivers, SH1 and the Malvern foothills. Red Zones: Environment Canterbury has labelled many blocks of land as red zones areas that have no more groundwater allocation to spare for irrigation. But farmers keep fighting for more water through legal challenges. Project Aqua: The lower Waitaki River was the site where Meridian abandoned a bid to build six new power stations by diverting two-thirds of the river through channel alongside the river.


Canterbury has 78,162 kilometres of rivers and 4753 lakes with a surface area of 702 square kilometres, an area the size of greater Christchurch.

The Canterbury region has 70 per cent of the country's irrigated land and generates 24% of the nation's power through hydroelectricity.

The aquifiers on the Central Plains are fed by seepage from the rivers and by rainfall. They supply almost all the water for irrigation and for human use.

The groundwater of the Canterbury Plains is a large continuously flowing body of water within layers of silts, sands and gravel down to a depth of 500m.

The Waimakariri River is the source of Christchurch's pristine untreated drinking water through the underground aquifer system. It's also one of the largest and best examples of a braided river in New Zealand.



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