Canterbury salmon population to get a boost

 View TV3's Video of the the Canterbury salmon population to get a boost


Irrigation schemes that take water from the rivers are controversial for a many reasons.

Wednesday 27 May 2015 6:45 p.m.

By TV3 Reporter

But in a New Zealand first, the developer behind Canterbury's Rangitata water storage scheme has constructed a salmon-spawning race next to its ponds, to hopefully increase the number of fish in the river.

One by one the hatchery-raised salmon flop into the water. The race is to be their new home, but only for a few days. They'll spawn there straight away and then die.

The purpose-built, 500-metre-long spawning race is the first in the country.

The $1 million project was paid for and constructed by the developers of the Rangitata River irrigation scheme, and it sits right next to their storage ponds.

Steve Agnew, an engineer at Rooney Earthmoving, says the spawning race was helping to give back to the environment.

"We wanted to give back to the river and as part of the irrigation project we wanted to include a fish-spawning race in the project."

The gravels used in the race provide the perfect safe habitat for salmon to bury their eggs. When they hatch they'll return as adults to continue the breeding cycle.

Fish and Game officer Mark Webb is convinced the race will help see a rise in young salmon.

"We're looking at between 30 and 50 percent increase in the total number of juvenile salmon in the Rangitata River, because we will have lots of spawning here, which is additional to the wild spawning."

Keen angler Phil de Joux has set up a salmon hatchery to supply the egg-filled fish. They're juveniles now but as adults they'll spawn in the race.

"The salmon fishing on the Rangitata has been in decline over the past few years, and anything that can help and enhance the river is marvellous."

They only put 40 fish in the race this first season. But now they know it works, there'll soon be many more fish going in for salmon seasons to come.

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Irrigation scheme to combat future droughts

 View TV3's Video of the the irrigation scheme at Rangitata River, Canterbury

Irrigation scheme_to_combat_future_droughts

TV3The irrigation scheme by the Rangitata River

By TV 3 Reporter


More government money will go into irrigation schemes to stop a repeat of this year's drought problems for farmers.

But down in South Canterbury they've already thought of that – the country's biggest earthworks project is nearing completion for two huge irrigation schemes beside the Rangitata River.

It's a $100 million job, but easy to miss as you drive through the south Canterbury countryside. Behind the country's biggest earthworks project is Gary Rooney, a Waimate-based construction company boss who prefers to let his diggers do the talking.

They're capturing water from the Rangitata – for years much of its extra water has been wasted, flowing to sea.

On its south side, Mr Rooney bought a whole farm and converted it to 300 hectares of ponds – basically a water bank. The saved water will be sent through 70km of canals for farmers to keep their cow paddocks green and lush, up to 16,000 hectares.

"We've got this project which has got about a million square metres of liner, and another across the river which is another million-and-a-half square metres," says manager Colin Dixon." style="margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; outline: 0px; vertical-align: baseline; background-color: transparent; list-style-image: none; color: rgb(0, 0, 0);">

Across the river are another three massive ponds, fully lined to stop seepage – water reserves for farmers on a different irrigation scheme. Overseas experts, nicknamed carpet layers, are leading the lining project.

"I've been on a few big ones, but this is the biggest and probably will be the biggest I ever work on," says Kevin Monaghan.

A windy day could spell disaster.

The crew have also battled floods but the project's forging ahead, including a rock wall to stop fish getting into the irrigation channel.

The scheme even comes with its own spawning race, designed so salmon can come back and breed in their own river.

Next step is for the canals to be put in. The ponds will be in action next spring.

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