In this section

You can check on the location of water races in Selwyn District by visiting the Canterbury Maps website and selecting the Selwyn Water Races in the Layer List (from the top menu).

The water races exist primarily to supply drinking water to stock animals across Selwyn. Water races have a secondary purpose of firefighting resources, irrigation and landscape/aesthetic. All properties with access to a water race are rated for stock water regardless of whether the water is used.

Our water races

The Water Race network in central Canterbury began operations over 120 years ago.

Council manages approximately 1,700kms of water race network that runs across the district.

Water Races are run under three different schemes, check our maps below to locate them:

Land owners' responsibilitiesDirty Water Race

  • Water Races marked as Privately Maintained’ are the responsibility of the adjacent landowner. (This includes some races within the road reserve).
  • Clean water races should be free flowing, and clear of silt, vegetation and other obstructions that prevent water from flowing.
  • You are required to make sure that the race is clean, clear and not holding up flows to downstream properties, or causing effects such as flooding.
  • Spraying of water race banks is not recommended as it can cause them to slump and collapse.
  • Pest plants such as Gorse, Broome and Willow also need to be managed as well as hedges and plantings maintained so they don’t affect the flows in the race.
  • Landowners failing to do their maintenance will be given clean notices, and if not complied with, council will do the work and on charge the costs back to the landowner.

Please email us at if you want advice on how to manage your water race.

Our responsibilities

If unsure, please contact us to find out whether your water race is cleaned by our contractor or to get further advice on maintaining your water race.

Reporting poor water race supply

  • If you are experiencing a poor supply from a water race please report the issue via our customer request form.
  • Our contractor will investigate and where possible remedy the issue. We cannot guarantee supply to the races and sometimes it can take a long time for the problem to be resolved (e.g. due to lack of water in the river). Council’s policy W109 [PDF, 3166 KB] enables a rebate of water race rates to be made for the duration of the prolonged outage (provided it was reported to Council in writing).

Building a culvert


Closing a water race

With the change of land use in Selwyn there are now water races that are surplus to requirements.

If you would like to close a water race on or adjacent to your property please visit the Water Race Closure page and follow the specified process.

Relocating a water race

  • Land owners can apply for permission to move a section of water race. To gain approval there must be no impact on other water race users. Relocations are required to be undertaken in line with policy W106 in the Water Races Bylaw [PDF, 105 KB].
  • In addition to making an application to Council, it is the applicant's responsibility to consult with Environment Canterbury prior to excavation works being undertaken in or adjacent to a water race to determine whether resource consent is required (earthworks adjacent to a surface water body).
  • Please refer to the Drawing - Water race lining, New and Relocated Channels [PDF, 473 KB] to prepare your application.

Fill in an Application for a water race relocation / new water race [PDF, 360 KB]

Building set back

Extracting water to irrigate

  • Use of water races for any purpose other than stock water requires an application to Council.
  • Council’s Water Race Policies [PDF, 3166 KB] outline how the races are used and managed.
  • Incorrect take from the water race is an enforceable offence under the water race bylaw [PDF, 105 KB]. If supply is low, the Council may require all domestic irrigation to cease.

For non-commercial use

For commercial use

Specific to Paparua Water Race Scheme

Building a pond

Our water race charges

Selwyn is a unique district with its access to water races.

Every rate payer in Selwyn is charged for the upkeep of these, however this differs depending on access;

  • Water race amenity: $22 per year (properties without access)
  • Water race access: $318 service charge + $18 per hectare