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.

Where are our water races? Clean Water Race

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


Reporting poor water race supply

  • If you are experiencing a poor supply from your water race please report the issue to Council by phone or email helpline@selwyn.govt.nz. Our Network Management Contractor SICON will investigate and where possible remedy the issue.
  • Council 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 enables a rebate of water race rates to be made for the duration of the prolonged outage (provided it was reported to Council).
  • Applications for water race rebates should be made in writing to WaterRaces@selwyn.govt.nz
  • To find out if your water race is your responsibility and to get advice on maintenance best practices please contact Council.


Irrigation applications

  • Use of water races for any purpose other than stock water requires an application to Council.
  • Council’s Water Race Policies [PDF, 1236 KB] outline how the races are used and managed.
  • Incorrect take from the water race is an enforceable offence under the water race bylaw. If supply is low, the Council may require all domestic irrigation to cease.

Non-commercial use

Commercial use


Relocating water races

Application - Race relocation of new water race [PDF, 360 KB]

  • Land owners can apply to Council 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.
  • Applicants should contact Council to be directed to Council’s Network Management Contractor SICON for further advice and to make an application. No relocations can be undertaken without Council approval.
  • Drawing - Water race lining, New and Relocated Channels [PDF, 473 KB]
  • Council approval is required before any new structures are placed in a water race or changes made to an existing race (relocation, closure etc). 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).

Closing down a water race


Water races maintenance

We have contractors employed to manage the water races and to ensure there is supply across each scheme. Council contractor SICON does this work including river works at each intake, clearing grills and screens and setting flows across each scheme.

Set back

Cleaning and spraying

Dirty Water Race

Clean water races should be free flowing, clear of silt, vegetation and other obstructions that prevent water from flowing.

  • We are responsible for cleaning main water races where required.
  • We undertake spraying of vegetation emerging from some Council cleaned water races. Spraying of water race banks can cause them to slump and collapse.
  • We do not recommend land owners spray water race banks or directly into water.
  • Land owners are responsible for cleaning all other races (as outlined in Policy W103). If there is a water race on or adjacent to your property you should regularly inspect, repair, maintain and clean to ensure there is a continuous supply of water downstream.
  • Cleaning should include removal of built up silt, aquatic weed and grasses and pest plants in the race. Race cleaning work should be careful not to damage races or banks.
  • Please contact Council to find out whether your water race is cleaned by Council or to get further advice on maintaining your water race.

Maintaining culverts

Planting and spraying


Applying for a water race pond

Application - Construction of new ponds [PDF, 60 KB]


Water Races Infrastructure Management

The Water Race network in central Canterbury began operations over 120 years ago and was established to provide a reliable water source for agriculture.

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

  • The Council Water Race Management Plan (Part 1 [PDF, 8002 KB], Part 2 [PDF, 14522 KB]) sets out key water race network managing principles. The plan gives a specific statement of intent for the network, details key objectives/outcomes, and outlines best practice guidelines to be followed in managing and operating the network.