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Working safely with irrigators

South Canterbury farmers are being reminded to prevent water from their irrigators touching overhead power lines following a series of incidents in January.

The reminder follows five occurrences where water from irrigators connected with power lines causing outages and infrastructure damage.

Alpine Energy Group Manager Safety and Risk Stephen Small says farmers need to be aware of the proximity to power lines and think about where the water is going once it leaves the irrigator.

“We had one incident where an irrigator travelling across the paddock ran into an electricity line setting the irrigator on fire and causing a power outage not only for that farmer but all his neighbours as well.”

Operating irrigators around electricity can pose a significant risk to life if not done correctly.

Equipment does not need to touch the lines. Electricity can arch through damp air in a high voltage system without direct contact resulting in power outages, fire and possible electrocution. Water jets hitting overhead lines can also cause outages.

“We urge people to be aware of the hazards and operate their machinery accordingly. This means knowing where the water and irrigator is going when travelling across a paddock, consider where the cables are and ensure a six metre clearance at all times.”

Members of the public should report any occurrence of water hitting power lines to Alpine Energy on 03 687 4300, or via the snap, send, solve smartphone application which provides exact information about the location of the event.

For more information please contact:
Stephen Small
Alpine EnergyGroup Manager - Safety and Risk
027 5558870

More information:

The use of irrigators needs to comply with ECP 34: The New Zealand Electrical Code of Practice for Electrical Safe Distances. Unless you have Alpine’s consent the minimum distance from our overhead lines is four metres.