The Central Plains Water Enhancement Scheme, which is owned and operated by Central
Plains Water Limited (CPWL),
is the largest irrigation scheme in the South Island with an estimated value of
The Scheme currently supplies irrigation to approximately
45,000 hectares and has the consented potential to deliver sustainable
irrigation to 63,000 hectares of land between the Rakaia and Waimakariri
We service 401 shareholder customers across the Central Plains Water
Enhancement Scheme and deliver pressurised water at the farm gate to
The Scheme has been developed by CPWL, a co-operative of 380 farmer shareholders and is managed and operated by
Our team manage all aspects of the business's 24/7 day to day operations of the Scheme including;
delivery, storage, repairs and maintenance, resource consents, nutrient management, health and
and emergency response capabilities, business operations including finance, legal and
We manage and operate $422M of scheme assets to ensure reliable and
water delivery to our customers. Our maintenance team monitor and maintain the scheme 24 hours a
seven days a week.
The Scheme has been built in stages and they are described as Stage 1, Stage 2 and Sheffield.
The Scheme utilises run-of-river water from both the Rakaia and Waimakariri rivers supported by
from Lake Coleridge.
The Central Plains Water Scheme has been a significant construction project for the South Island.
The Scheme was constructed in three stages between 2014 and 2018 and is now fully operational.
has utilised state of the art materials, construction techniques and control systems, all
meet an 80 year life with an expectation that 100 years of service will be achieved.
We work closely with our irrigators and local regulators to ensure all aspects of the scheme and
operation comply with our resource consents. We assist our customers with preparation and
farm environment plans and we audit these plans regularly.
The Scheme is delivering “game changing” benefits to the Canterbury Community by way of economic
p.a increased production), social (circa 700 new jobs) and environmental (restoration of
the Te Waihora / Ellesmere) benefits.
We work proactively to ensure reliability. We understand the issues and work to exceed expectations. We pay attention to detail and don't take shortcuts.
At this time, not all of the available water delivery shares have been sold. If you are wanting to
access CPWL water for your farm, please contact us. The percentage of total available shares sold in each stage is provided below.
Stage 1 96%
Stage 2 87%
Planning to dig?
If you are planning to excavate within the scheme area please ensure you lodge a request with beforeUdig.co.nz to avoid damaging our scheme assets.
Our scheme contains many hundreds of kilometres of buried pressurised water pipes ranging in diameter
from 2.5 metres down to 150mm. We also have many electricity and communications services buried
throughout the scheme area.
If you are planning to excavate and are unsure if it will impact our scheme then please contact our
Research undertaken by Agribusiness and Economics Research Unit at Lincoln University
investigated the significant contribution to the economy of
Christchurch city by the rural sector in Canterbury. Changes in rural sector infrastructure,
particularly extensive irrigation development and associated
land-use changes, have had significant flow-on effects on the city’s economy. The total impact, either
directly or indirectly, has contributed to an additional
more than 4,000 full-time jobs in the city that were associated with economic activity generated by farm
expenditure from the Selwyn and Waimakariri
Central Plains Water Trust (CPWT) was established to improve the security and prosperity of
Central Canterbury through water management schemes
that enhance ecological and recreational values while providing the opportunity for agricultural and
horticultural diversity. Through CPWL and the
construction and operation of the Scheme, these objectives have been reached.
$592M in increased agricultural output per annum from the
irrigated area of the Scheme.
Long term employment for staff on farms for which a land use has
changed to higher value
Support for the supply of raw materials to food processing
facilities (eg. Fonterra,
McCains, Watties, Synlait).
Provides the opportunity for alternative crop and food
Increase in local school rolls – one school reporting an
approximate 97% increase in student
roll between 2012 and 2019.
Fostering safer communities with the provision of hi-viz safety
vests to Hororata Primary
Employment in the community.
Introduction of more diversity within the community.
Elimination of drought risk and associated stressors leading to
poor mental health outcomes.
Contributes to Selwyn District, the fastest growing region in New
66% reduction in the take of groundwater for irrigation which
was over allocated within the
Management of nitrate discharges to comply with the current
The establishment of funds to support ecological outcomes in the
Selwyn / Waihora zone.
Replenishment of near surface aquifers by working with
Environment Canterbury on Targeted
Stream Augmentation projects.
Positions Shareholders advantageously in the current proposed
changes for freshwater
management (100% of Shareholders have FEPs versus 23% for all Fonterra Shareholders).