Economic impact study on Manuherekia minimum flow options released
Today the Central Otago District Council released the Economic impacts of minimum flows in the Manuherekia Catchment report. The report is released as the Otago Regional Council begins community consultation on various minimum flow options for the Manuherekia River.
A new minimum flow is likely to increase from the current voluntary minimum flow of 900 litres per second at the Alexandra campground and the purpose of the report is to provide community with an understanding on the economic and employment impacts of the different minimum flows options.
A higher minimum flow directly impacts economic activity and employment in our district as it will mean that there is less water available for irrigation. The economic and employment impacts of any changes stretch beyond just those directly employed on farms in the catchment.
The report identifies that currently in a year of average rainfall the irrigated farmland in the Manuherekia catchment alone directly provides for $17.6m in GDP and 180 jobs. This economic activity indirectly creates an additional $10.2m in GDP and 125 jobs in Central Otago. Indirect jobs are jobs that are created as a result of wages being spent and farms procuring goods and services. These figures do not include horticulture or viticulture, due to be base level data not being available from ORC. The inclusion of horticulture and viticulture would see these figures grow.
During a dry year, the total contribution to Central Otago’s GDP from irrigated farmland in the catchment could reduce by 50% in a 3000 l/s scenario, compared to the status quo. Under a 1500 l/s minimum flow regime, the total reduction in contribution to Central Otago’s GDP would be 9.8%.
“There are currently at least 305 jobs in our community that rely on irrigated farming in the catchment, forty per cent of these jobs are outside of farms - they are throughout our community, so this is a really important issue for everyone. While this report is limited to the effects on economic activity and employment, please pause for a moment and think what else will change as a result of less employment how will this affect populations in our smaller communities, school roles and the availability of services that we all enjoy,” said Central Otago Mayor Tim Cadogan.
“Central Otago District Council realises that the effect of minimum flows on employment and economic activity is only part of the picture. This economic analysis has been undertaken to make sure the best information possible is available for community consideration,” said Central Otago Mayor Tim Cadogan.
A copy of the report is available on Council’s website.