The Ashburton Lyndhurst Irrigation Ltd (ALIL) Pipe Scheme was opened last week by Agriculture Minister Damien O'Connor - the day after the Government announced it would no longer fund additional irrigation schemes.

The minister cut the ribbon, hailing the benefits of irrigation to about 100 people, who included past and present ALIL board members, staff, shareholders, designers, contractors, labourers, industry representatives, Ashburton deputy mayor Neil Brown and politicians Jo Luxton and Amy Adams.

The opening was held at scheme pond four, on the corner of Pole and Springfield Rds, Lauriston.

ALIL board of directors chairman Colin Glass thanked those who had helped to get the scheme up and running putting in ''a lot of work and effort''.

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He said the leap to spray irrigation and better water efficiency was the catalyst behind the modification and the move to pressurised water supply.

Stage one, completed in November 2008, was an $8million pressurised pipe system - a groundbreaking development in New Zealand then. A turbine scheme was developed in 2009 to allow five farmers just below the Rangitata Diversion Race (RDR) to access the water supply. Too close to the RDR to build pressure, powered turbines were used to generate it.

The success of the pressurised pipe system got the ball rolling for further development.

Stage two cost $110million, for the piping plus buffer ponds and telemetry, and with $150million on-farm irrigation investment by scheme shareholders: the total investment topped $250million.

It was a major improvement on the existing water delivery system.

Mr Glass said it was ''fortunate politicians had recognised the benefit of irrigation'' and its importance to the country's rural communities.

The completed scheme was delivered on time, and within budget at completion in February 2017.

Former scheme manager Jess Dargue said the $110million scheme was ''a state-of-the-art system at a very affordable price''.

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Mr Dargue spoke of the scheme's history and thanked the shareholders for approving stage two, which was important to secure its sustainability.

''(The) shareholders made the commitment and got it along the way,'' he said.

Monadelphous Water Infrastructure Group NZ water networks manager Aynsley Griffith spoke of a design process with multiple changes, causing headaches and tension among his team.

''They're (pressurised irrigation schemes) very challenging, well done,'' he said.

BNZ corporate partner Cameron Reed said confidence in the ALIL board from its shareholders inspired the BNZ to back the project.

It was a modern efficient use of water source with beneficial power savings.

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Former board member John van Polanen's 15 years service to ALIL was acknowledged with the presentation of a 'mini slip gate' garden sculpture made by ALIL staff.

-By Toni Williams

Central Rural Life