Frequently Asked Questions


The most Frequently Asked Questions about the Scheme and the use of Water from the Scheme are provided below.

Central Plains Water Limited has an Environmental Management Fund (EMF) for the enhancement of biodiversity across the catchment. The fully operational Scheme generates approximately $115,000 annually for allocation by the EMF. Applications for funding are considered by a Committee appointed by CPWL. Applications are considered for projects designed to address adverse environmental impacts associated with the Scheme, or for biodiversity enhancement projects in the Selwyn / Te Waihora. The following projects will be considered by the EMF:

  • Minimising nutrient losses to lowland streams and Te Waihora/Lake Ellesmere
  • Excluding stock from wetlands, riparian margins and beds of rivers and streams
  • Physical protection or enhancement of indigenous vegetation planting along riparian margins
  • Indigenous wetland enhancement of indigenous wetland creation, including the development of indigenous wetlands along intermittent streams
  • Permanent protection of wetland area that may contain mudfish

Funds have been provided for the planting of native species, the development of wetlands, and for research.

All CPWL Shareholders are required to apply the use of good management practices on their farms.

In addition to the CPWL EMF, funds are made available to Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu for environmental initiatives associated with the restoration of health / mauri of the environment in the vicinity of Te Waihora / Lake Ellesmere.

Funding is also provided for the periodic opening of Te Waihora / Lake Ellesmere to the sea to permit the flushing of water from the Lake to the sea.

Central Plains Water has the capacity to irrigate 63,000 hectares of farmland. Under the current three stages in operation – Stage 1, Stage 2 and the Sheffield Scheme – 45,000ha is irrigated.

Stage 1 of the Central Plains Water Scheme includes 23,000 hectares of irrigable area and construction of a 17-kilometre-long canal delivering water from the Rakaia River into a piped distribution network.  Contractors completed work on construction of Stage 1 in September 2015.

Stage 2 of the scheme covers an area of 20,000 hectares and was built between January 2017 and October 2018. Stage 2 provides irrigation to 150 farms. The total cost of Stage 2 was $182M.

The Sheffield Scheme is physically discrete from the remainder of the CPWL Stage 1 and Stage 2 infrastructure. It was developed and is operated in isolation of the main scheme.  The Scheme takes water from both the Waimakariri and Kowai Rivers to irrigate an area of approximately 4,300ha.

The Central Plains Water Enhancement Scheme is an irrigation scheme in Selwyn District, Canterbury with the capacity to irrigate 63,000 hectares of farmland between the Rakaia and Waimakariri Rivers. The Scheme was constructed in three stages between 2014 and 2018.

Construction work started on the scheme in 2014 with water first distributed to Stage 1 shareholders in 2015. After that work was undertaken on Stage 2 and the Sheffield stage. All work was completed by 2019.

The Central Plains Water Enhancement Scheme is an irrigation scheme in Selwyn District, Canterbury with the capacity to irrigate 63,000 hectares of farmland between the Rakaia and Waimakariri Rivers.

Central Plains Water Limited (CPWL) has an estimated value of $422M, is owned by 380 farmer shareholders and operates on co-operative principles. Shareholders include dairy farmers, croppers and beef and sheep and every farmer maintains commitment to a farm environment plan regime.