In this section

The water races exist to supply drinking water to stock animals and, in rare cases, to rural households.

Their secondary purposes are firefighting, irrigation and landscape/aesthetic.  All properties with access to a water race are rated for stock water regardless of whether the water is used.

Water race in snowThe Council Water Race Management Plan sets out the key principles to be followed in managing the water race network. 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.

To download a copy of the management plan, follow the links below.

Water Race Management Plan Part 1
Water Race Management Plan Part 2

Use of water races for any purpose other than stock water requires an application to Council. Council’s Water Race Policies and Bylaw outline how the races are used and managed. Copies of these documents can be found below:

Council Policy Manual (including Water Races Policies)
Water Race Bylaw 2008

Water Race Culverts

Each property owner owns their entranceway culvert over the water race and are responsible for it’s maintenance and replacement, if needed. Approval from Council is required prior to any structure being placed in a water race.

Drawing - Water race entranceway culvert
Application - New entranceway culvert

Water Race Shut Downs

Any contractors or land owners wishing to shut down water supply to install culverts or other structures, should contact the Council to be directed to Council’s Network Management Contractor SICON. Planned shut downs shall be undertaken in line with Councils Policy W117. Please note that planned shut downs greater than 24 hours will be publicly notified at the applicants cost. Council require 3 weeks notice for planned shut downs greater than 24 hours.

Current planned water race shut downs

Water Race Relocations

Land owners can apply to Council for permission to move a section of water race. To gain Council 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
Application - Race relocation of new water race


Selwyn District 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).

Water Race Ponds

Water race ponds can be applied for, in line with the requirements of Policy W102. Applicants should contact Council to be directed to Council’s Network Management Contractor SICON for further advise and to make an application. A copy of the water race pond application form can be found here.

Drawing - Water race connection requirements for ponds
Application - Construction of new ponds

Irrigation Applications

Water race rate payers in all three schemes can apply to irrigate house gardens from the water race up to a maximum of 4,000 litres per day. Non-commercial irrigation for establishment of shelter-belts can be applied for, for a 2 year period.

Council hold an Environment Canterbury consent that allows water for commercial irrigation to be taken from the water race in the Paparua scheme. Irrigation water is allocated based on availability and a roster is reissued on 1 September each year. Amounts of available irrigation water are influenced by river levels which is reflected in the irrigation roster. Annual irrigation charges for 2017/18 are $291.42 per litre per second allocation (excl GST). Further details on the types of irrigation available are outlined in policy W101 and sections 6.9 and 6.10 of the bylaw.

Application forms -

Any person wishing to apply for irrigation should contact Council to be directed to Council’s Network Management Contractor SICON.

Building Setback from a Water Race

To ensure that water races can continue to be maintained, Council’s standard building setback from the top of a water race bank is 10 metres, as outlined in the water race bylaw Section 8.21. A reduction in building setback can be applied for using the form found here.

Fencing Stock

To maintain the quality of water race water, Council require that heavy stock (cattle, deer and horses) are prevented from physically entering the water race (section 8.5 of water race bylaw). Land owners are encouraged to install drinking bays in the water race which allow stock to drink but not stand in the water race. Details of standard designs:

Drawings -

Water Race Planting

Council support the planting of water races to help to increase biodiversity, reduce weed growth and stabilise race banks. Council need to make sure that plant selection and placing are suitable.

Further details and a list of approved plants.

Water Race Cleaning & Spraying

Council generally clean main water races when it is required and land owners are responsible for cleaning all other races (as outlined in Policy W103). Council contractors have legal rights to cross private property to clean a designated race. Property owners are responsible for maintaining all vegetation planted adjacent to water races.

Council undertake spraying of vegetation emerging from some Council cleaned water races. Spraying of water race banks can cause them to slump and collapse.  Council do not recommend land owners spray water race banks or directly into water.

Please contact Council to find out whether your water race is cleaned by Council or to get further advise on maintaining your water race.

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 Council’s Network Management Contractor SICON will investigate and where possible remedy the issue.  If the problem cannot 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 outage (provided it was reported to Council). Applications for water race rebates should be made in writing to

Water Race Closure

If all rate payers on a section of water race agree to its closure, an application can be made to Council to close the race. Details of the closure process. No closure can be undertaken without Council approval.

View details for proposed Water race closures currently advertised.