Our Mission

To provide reliable and cost-effective water to the Canterbury Plains, while creating sustainable value for our shareholders, local communities and the environment.

The Central Plains Water Enhancement Scheme

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 $422M.

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 Rivers.

Our Customers and People

We service 380 shareholder customers across the Central Plains Water Enhancement Scheme and deliver pressurised water at the farm gate to 45,000 hectares.

The Scheme has been developed by CPWL, a co-operative of 380 farmer shareholders and managed by a staff of 15, plus contractors.

Our team manage all aspects of the business's 24/7 day to day operations of the Scheme including; water delivery, storage, repairs and maintenance, resource consents, nutrient management, health and safety and emergency response capabilities, business operations including finance, legal and communications.

Our Assets

We manage and operate $422M of scheme assets to ensure reliable and efficient water delivery to our customers. Our maintenance team monitor and maintain the scheme 24 hours a day, 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 stored water 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. The Scheme has utilised state of the art materials, construction techniques and control systems, all designed to meet an 80 year life with an expectation that 100 years of service will be achieved.

Our Environment and Society

We work closely with our irrigators and local regulators to ensure all aspects of the scheme and its operation comply with our resource consents. We assist our customers with preparation and maintenance of farm environment plans and we audit these plans regularly.

The Scheme is delivering “game changing” benefits to the Canterbury Community by way of economic ($592M p.a increased production), social (circa 700 new jobs) and environmental (restoration of groundwater to the Te Waihora / Ellesmere) benefits.





Are you a Central Plains Water Scheme shareholder or farmer?

Login to this website to access more detailed information, current news and scheme training resources.

Contact the operations team if you need your Login details.

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 Maintenance team.

Learn More

Scheme Benefits

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 Districts.

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.

Economic Benefits

  • $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 uses.
  • Support for the supply of raw materials to food processing facilities (eg. Fonterra, McCains, Watties, Synlait).
  • Provides the opportunity for alternative crop and food production.

Community Benefits

  • 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 School.
  • 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 Zealand.

Environmental Benefits

  • 66% reduction in the take of groundwater for irrigation which was over allocated within the command area.
  • Management of nitrate discharges to comply with the current Regional Plan.
  • 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).