“After the extreme drought that most of the country has struggled through this year, the need for better water storage is obvious,” Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy said.
“There is no shortage of water in New Zealand, but we lack the ability to store and use that water when it’s needed most. Currently, only 2% of rainfall is used for irrigation. We need to do a better job of using this resource.”
He said increasing irrigation could see a further 420,000ha of irrigated land becoming available, creating thousands of new jobs and boosting exports by $4 billion a year.
“More consistent river flows in summer will also have real benefits for the environment, with improved habitats for fish and birdlife.
The $80 million funding was announced in January and comes from the Government’s Future Investment Fund, using proceeds from the share offer programme.
In total, the Government has signalled plans to invest up to $400 million in regional irrigation schemes to encourage third-party capital investment.
A new Crown company will be established on July 1 to act as a bridging investor for irrigation projects.