Christchurch, New Zealand --- (METERING.COM) --- May 3, 2010 - New Zealand’s national body representing irrigation interests, Irrigation NZ, has come out in  strong support of the approval of a national regulation requiring water takes to be measured as part of a wider program to improve fresh water management.

In order to move forward and optimize water management in New Zealand water measuring is an essential part of the equation, said Irrigation NZ chief executive Andrew Curtis: “You can’t manage water if you don’t measure it.”

In a statement the body said that a national regulation is by far the most efficient way of getting water measured rather than leaving the decision and timing to each individual regional council. If regulation had been left to the regional councils they would have had the ability to only legislate measuring for new consents or renewals, meaning it would have taken more than 25 years to get the tools in place for optimal water management.

The body is also pleased to see the government has taken a pragmatic approach to water measurement and allowed some areas, where water is plentiful, to be exempt for now.

This will assist with regulation being realized within the timeframes set – all takes over 20 l/s  need to be measured by 2012, over 10 l/s by 2014 and over 5 l/s by 2016.

For water meters on pipes the measurement accuracy is plus or minus 5% and for open channels the requirement will be plus or minus10%. These are both sensible and internationally accepted levels of accuracy.

“It will be a stretch but in most regions the suppliers, installers and regional council’s have systems in place it’s now just a case of ramping things up,” added Curtis.

Irrigation NZ also said that to ensure consistency with the implementation of water measurement nationally the body will be working with government and regional councils to implement an industry led standard for water meter installation and verification.

Meanwhile the Canterbury area regional council, Environment Canterbury, has encouraged large water users in the Rakaia-Selwyn area to get started on installing water meters or risk running out of time before the deadline in September this year. These users, who use more than 357,000 cubic metres per year, are required to install water meters by September 30 this year as a result of a recent Environment Canterbury review of 532 water-take resource consents in the area. Smaller water users have until September 2011 to install water meters.

While the consent review decision has been appealed by a number of consent holders, large water users should still go ahead with planning their water metering systems, commented Environment Canterbury consents review manager, Tania Harris. “Water metering for water-take consents will become mandatory once the government adopts the national regulations for measurement of water use.”

A typical water measuring system can take up to six weeks to install and configure. Some bodies, such as the Ellesmere Irrigation Society, are establishing a telemetry network offering a shared and economical solution to collecting, monitoring and measuring the data from water meters, to which 163 water user members had agreed to connect so far. While not all these users are required to provide data via telemetry, they want to benefit from the economies of scale such a shared system provides.