Thursday, October 18, 2012

The problems of irrigation

Normally, we see irrigation as farmers externalising their costs onto the rest of us as dirty rivers and reduced recreation. But a report into a proposed Tekapo irrigation scheme shows us that pollution isn't the only way farmers externalise their costs:

Opuha Water outlined a $185 million proposal to take water from Lake Tekapo and irrigate 25,000 hectares to the Canterbury water management strategy's Upper Waitaki committee in June.

However, a report to be presented to the committee in Twizel tomorrow suggests the negative impacts raised many "red flags".

"The proposal would negatively impact on the ability to meet the energy security and efficiency targets in the Upper Waitaki, due to the lost generation. Lake Tekapo is the highest and most valuable of all the hydro lakes and is critical for regional and national economies.

"Moreover, the costings in the proposal use average cost for lost generation - the peak price could be 400 per cent higher," the document said.

That right - in this case, higher profits for farmers will be paid for by higher electricity prices for the rest of us. Sadly, the dictatorship's water zone committees are so riven with conflicts of interest that they'll probably approve it anyway.