Operations & Maintenance

The Operations team is responsible for ensuring water delivery to our shareholders.

Water Supply

We service 380 shareholder customers across the Central Plains Water Enhancement Scheme and deliver pressurised water at the farm gate to 45,000 hectares with the capacity to irrigate 63,000 hectares of farmland between the Rakaia and Waimakariri Rivers.


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.

Customer Support

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.

Scheme Maintenance

We have a professional maintenance team who ensure that the scheme is operating reliably throughout the irrigation season.

Our maintenance team members have a wide range of experience in operational maintenance, electrical systems, pumping and water reticulation, on-farm irrigation maintenance and farm management.

On Farm Turnouts

On farm turnouts are the point where water is delivered to farm irrigation infrastructure. The CPWL turnout regulates pressure to farms. CPWL does not control flow, so it is the farmer's responsibility to ensure that their water take does not exceed their maximum contracted flow rate.

Shareholders and Irrigators should not adjust any of the controls on the CPWL turnout. The downstream (farm-side) isolation valve on the turnout should only be used in emergency situations (e.g. to isolate on-farm infrastructure if an on-farm pipe burst has occurred).

River Intake Maintenance

A key function of the Operations and Maintenance team is to manage the maintenance of the Rakaia and Waimakariri River Intakes. The intakes are the primary points from which water is brought into the irrigation scheme.

The Rakaia Intake (supplying Stages 1 and 2) typically diverts thirty cumecs of water, whilst the Waimakariri Intake (supplying Sheffield Water Scheme) typically diverts three cumecs. These intakes are the primary points from which water is brought into the irrigation scheme. A key function of the Operations and Maintenance Team is to manage the maintenance of the Rakaia and Waimakariri River Intakes.

CPWL employs external contractors to manage river intake maintenance to ensure that enough water supply is available to the scheme, whilst maintaining adequate defences to ensure that river floods do not damage the scheme intake assets.

24x7 Alarm Response

The entire CPWL scheme is monitored and controlled via a state of the art control system (SCADA). All aspects of the scheme are controlled and reported back electronically to the Operations and Maintenance team.

The control system enables CPWL maintenance staff to have visibility of flows and pressures at all sites across the scheme. Key attributes (such as flow and pressure) are alarmed, and whenever any site exceeds its pre-set bounds, an alarm is raised to the maintenance team.

Scheme alarms are prioritised into High, Medium, or Low priorities and our maintenance team respond to those alarms accordingly.

Maintenance staff are rostered on 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The Maintenance team are fully focussed on ensuring water supply is provided to water users with minimal possible downtime.

Operations Team

The Operation team supports our Shareholders and Farmers by processing daily water orders and ensuring that the available water is utilised across the scheme as efficiently as possible.

How the Scheme Works

Shareholder farmers must hold two types of share to receive water:

  1. Ordinary Shares: which determine the total volume of water available to them each season. A total of $8M worth of Ordinary shares have been sold – enough to irrigate 63,000 hectares.
  2. Construction Shares: which determine the maximum flow rate available at their on-farm turnout. Construction Shares average $2000 each with one share required to provide irrigation to one hectare.

The supply of water through the Scheme is demand driven. As the farmers take water, the Scheme control system automatically opens and closes canal control gates to bring in enough water to meet daily demand. The control system also ensures that water taken from the rivers does not exceed the daily consented limit. The result is that predominantly gravity fed water is delivered to Shareholder farms at 98% reliability.

The Scheme utilises industry leading computer and radio technology to manage and control water throughout the operation, and to monitor and report on the status of all Scheme assets. The health and status of all Scheme assets is monitored continuously, and issues are responded to by an on-call maintenance team 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

CPWL operates a computerised maintenance management system to manage and track work on all scheme assets. Water delivery downtime is minimised, and asset life is maximised via a comprehensive preventative maintenance programme implemented across the entire Scheme.

The Scheme utilises latest radio and computer technology to manage the monitoring, control, and operation of the Scheme.

The Scheme utilises latest radio and computer technology to manage the monitoring, control and operation of the Scheme.

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.

CPWL 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 CPWL scheme, then please contact our Maintenance team.

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