Investing in and managing high quality infrastructure for generations to come

BCI makes investment and operational decisions based on the intergenerational nature of the infrastructure it manages, the natural environment it works within, and the family farming businesses it supports.

BCI Infrastructure

Our infrastructure is a piped water network delivering alpine river water to shareholder customers within Mid Canterbury. The network was developed to deliver to farms that could not access water from existing irrigation schemes in the district. We irrigate approximately 10% of Mid Canterbury’s 250,000 hectares of irrigable land.

The Water Source

BCI has a consent to abstract 17 cumecs of water from the Rakaia River from multiple intake points. The primary intake point is owned and operated by Trustpower Limited and is positioned adjacent to the Highbank Power Station near Methven. At this site water is abstracted from the Rakaia River and passes through a fish screen before being pumped 104 meters to the Rangitata Diversion Race (RDR), a canal built in the 1930’s and 1940’s that crosses the district from the Rangitata River to the Rakaia River.

Once in the RDR the water is transferred to the various parts of the BCI pipe network through backflow and water swap arrangements. If surplus Rangitata River water is available when not utilised by other irrigation schemes relying on the RDR delivery, BCI will use this as a priority to pumping Rakaia River water.

BCI has a second intake point on the Rakaia River near Barrhill. At this point water is taken from the river to a pond, passes through a fish screen and is then either pumped 40 meters to the plains at Barrhill or gravity piped to the plains 7 kilometres east of Barrhill.

A further intake is located near the Rakaia township and abstracts water for the Acton Scheme who utilise BCI water under license.


BCI’s consent to take water from the Rakaia River has certain monthly restrictions based on minimum environmental flows in the river. To overcome these restrictions, we utilise Lake Coleridge as our primary storage site.  We have a contractual arrangement with Trustpower Limited (who manage Lake Coleridge and hydro generation from the lake) whereby surplus water that is not used by irrigators when the river is flowing strongly, is stored in the lake and subsequently released to meet demand when the river flows are below minimum levels.

BCI also has a large storage pond near Methven. The 1.5 million cubic meter Akarana Storage Pond is filled from the RDR and is used to satisfy peak demand in the network.

The Network

BCI has 9 main distribution networks across Mid Canterbury. The networks have buffer ponds for management of water delivery and screen the water to remove debris before it enters the pipe.

Our network consists of approximately 250 kilometres of buried pipeline, a combination of polyethylene (PE) and glass reinforced plastic (GRP) pipe, ranging in size from 1600mm to 250mm.

At each farm connection there is flow measurement and radio telemetry allowing real-time monitoring of water use.

Electricity Generation

BCI operates a 530kW hydro electricity generator on part of its network near Barrhill. The energy produced is used in the district’s power network and offsets some of the energy consumed by the scheme in delivering water.

Planning and Control

The BCI planning team manages the delivery of water through Rubicon Water Management software and radio telemetry network. Irrigators order water daily via a phone app and the planning team aggregate the orders and ensure water is available when required.