About the Trust

Central Plains Water Trust

Facilitating sustainable development of Central Canterbury’s water resource

The Central Plains Water Trust was established by the Christchurch City and Selwyn District Councils to facilitate sustainable development of Central Canterbury’s water resource.

It continues the work of the Central Plains Water Enhancement Steering Committee to develop proposals for a large scale community water enhancement scheme providing water for irrigation between the Rakaia and the Waimakariri Rivers.

Trustees of the Central Plains Water Trust were appointed by the two Councils to reflect a broad range of skills and experience in areas such as governance, agriculture, engineering, commerce and resource management. Some Trustee appointments were made following recommendations from the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment and Te Runanga O Ngai Tahu.

The Trust has formed Central Plains Water Limited, which undertook a share issue in December 2004. The share issue was successful in raising the funds required to progress the water enhancement scheme proposals. As a result, Central Plains Water Limited has around 400 shareholders, these being the owners of properties approximately between the Malvern foothills, the Rakaia River, State Highway One and the Waimakariri River, where water for irrigation will be provided by the proposed community water enhancement scheme.

Stage 1 of the Scheme has been constructed and is in operation. Stage 2 will be constructed during 2017, including construction of irrigation for the Sheffield area with water taken from the Waimakiriri River. Otherwise the Scheme is enabling the introduction of Rakaia River water to be used to replace existing groundwater abstraction as well as to increase the area of irrigation on the Central Plains between the foothills and State Highway 1 between the Waimakiriri and Rakaia Rivers. The approximate ratio is 20,000 hectares of existing irrigation and 20,000 hectares of new irrigation. The new irrigation is predominantly in areas of better soils enabling higher end cropping and arable farming whereas existing irrigation has been used predominantly for Dairy and Dairy support on lighter soils.

The Scheme will allow the introduction of an average of 200 Million cubic metres of river water and retirement of existing ground water abstraction. The new water will be applied during the summer months while the recharge of the aquifers can be undertaken during winter. These opportunities to actively recharge the aquifers and to replenish the Selwyn River are currently under review with Environment Canterbury.

Entity and Legal basis

Type of Entity and Legal Basis

The Trust was formed by the Christchurch City Council and the Selwyn District Council by a deed of declaration of trust dated 15 April 2003, which was restated by a new deed of trust dated 9 October 2012, to facilitate the implementation of the Central Plains Water Enhancement Scheme and to hold the Resource Consents for it on behalf of all of the residents of the Canterbury Region.

For the purposes of Section 6 of the Local Government Act 2002, the Trust is a council controlled organisation, and as such the two councils are entitled to receive regular reports on the operations of the Trust, to comment on the Trust’s annual Statement of Intent, to appoint and remove trustees, and to approve any changes made by the Trustees to the Trust deed.