Formed in 2010, WIC’s shareholders are the five irrigation schemes and a society of individual irrigators that take water from Lake Waitaki, the Lower Waitaki River (or its tributaries or connected groundwater) and use that water to irrigate land downstream of the Waitaki Dam.
Morven, Glenavy, Ikawai Irrigation Company
The Morven, Glenavy, Ikawai Irrigation Company (MGI), which irrigates over 28,000 hectares on the north bank of the Waitaki River.
It incorporates one of the oldest schemes in the area – the Redcliffs irrigation scheme was built by the government of the day in the 1930s. This scheme was later merged with the Morven, Glenavy, Ikawai scheme (which was built in the 1970s) when MGI was formed and then purchased both schemes from the Crown in the mid-1980s. Bells Pond is the scheme’s settling pond which has been recognized as a regionally significant wetland. MGI has been undertaking comprehensive environmental farm planning for several years as part of its environmental farm plans. The recently commissioned Waihao Downs Irrigation scheme is a subsidiary of the Company. The scheme also seeks to improve environmental values in its command area by augmenting flows in the Waihao River, which flows into the Wainono Lagoon
North Otago Irrigation Company
The North Otago Irrigation Company (NOIC) is the newest irrigation company within WIC. The scheme was officially opened in October 2006.
NOIC shares an intake with the Lower Waitaki Irrigation Company. It is an entirely piped and pumped scheme, which delivers pressurised water to over 170 shareholders and 20,000 hectares of productive farmland across the North Otago downlands.
Since commissioning, NOIC has completed two extensions and has recently completed a major expansion that has increased the scheme’s irrigated area significantly. The scheme provides an environmental flow into the Waiareka Creek to improve its habitat values. In 2012 NOIC was the recipient of the Irrigation NZ Innovation Award for its Audited Self-Management System (ASM).
Kurow-Duntroon Irrigation Company
The Kurow-Duntroon Irrigation Company (KDIC) has a siphon intake structure attached to the Waitaki Dam, on Lake Waitaki, however its command area is below the Dam.
The scheme has two parts; the “upper” scheme and the “pumped extension”. The upper part of the scheme was first supplied water in 1965, and the pumped extension in 1971.
The Company, previously known as the Upper Waitaki Community Irrigation Company (UWCIC), purchased the irrigation race system from the government in 1990. Prior to this, the irrigation race was operated jointly with the then Ministry of Works and the Ministry of Agriculture.
KDIC is currently undergoing a major scheme upgrade and expansion which will significantly improve the scheme’s efficiency and environmental outcomes for tributaries of the Waitaki River.
There is a wide variety of land use within the command area, including dairying, dairy support, sheep and beef farming, horticulture and viticulture. Irrigation water is extremely important for frost-protection purposes in the latter two industries.
Lower Waitaki Irrigation Company
The Lower Waitaki Irrigation Company (LWIC) is a community irrigation scheme which irrigates over 20,000 hectares on the Waitaki plains to the North-West of Oamaru.
Irrigation on the plains began as early as 1912, however the scheme itself was constructed between 1974 and 1982. The LWIC was formed in 1989 and purchased the scheme infrastructure from the Crown for around $1 million.
The scheme has an intake at Black Point on the South bank of the Waitaki River, which is shares with NOIC. The scheme is largely gravity-fed but has a pumped section.
The Company has constructed a large buffer pond at Papakaio, in order to improve scheme efficiency and reliability, which is also used as a water sports facility.
Maerewhenua District Water Resource Company
The Maerewhenua District Water Resource Company is a small community irrigation scheme with a command area around the Duntroon and Maerewhenua areas on the South Bank of the Waitaki River.
The scheme was originally built in the 1970s as a gravity-fed border-dyke irrigation system, and was sold by the Crown to the Company in the 1980s. The original scheme design was for water to be used from the Duntroon Springs and the Maerewhenua River, however the Waitaki river provides a much higher level of reliability.
In early 2011, the scheme’s intake structure and headrace were completely destroyed during a period of sustained high river flows (around 1100 cumecs for three months). The scheme has therefore invested significantly in having the intake structure moved and rebuilt, and the headrace replaced with a piped reticulation system. The scheme has also been extended to increase the area under irrigation whilst improving environmental flows into the Maerewhenua River.
Waitaki Independent Irrigators Incorporated
The Incorporated Society is made up of those irrigators with a resource consent to extract surface or groundwater from the Lower Waitaki catchment for irrigation purposes.
This includes tributary waterways such as the Hakataramea, Maerewhenua and Awakino Rivers. The individuals come from both the North and South banks of the Waitaki River, from the Waitaki Dam to the sea. The membership of the Committee reflects the diversity of these interests and their geographic spread.