30 Years of GMW

Goulburn-Murray Water (GMW) was established in 1994 to put customers at the helm of the water industry in northern Victoria.

Thirty years on, it is now a perfect time to reflect on how we have worked with our customers to transform the water sector in our region.

The journey so far

GMW was born out of a decade of intense review, passionate debate, and institutional change in the rural water industry in Victoria.

One of the underpinning principles of the reform program that led to GMW being established was the increased role of customers in running Victoria's largest rural water businesses.

The shift to a more customer-focused way of operating included the appointment of an independent board of directors to govern GMW and establishing water service committees made up of customer representatives from across the region.

This fundamental change fostered greater joint commitment to the success of the rural water industry. This has been demonstrated by GMW’s financial sustainability and the lower customer fees that have resulted from it.

GMW’s draft 2024-28 Pricing Submission exemplifies this. It was developed through extensive engagement with customers and proposes a reduction to regular customer bills before CPI.

To learn more about GMW's history, head to the Our History page on Waterclass.

GMW in 30 milestones

To celebrate the journey we have been on with our customers to deliver for our region, we are looking back at some key milestones from the past three decades. Each week we will post about a new milestone on our social media platforms, starting at 1994 and going through each year until present day. Below are the milestones we have posted so far:

1994: GMW is established

The new corporation was established under the Water Act (1989) and superseded the Rural Water Commission.

1995: GMW assumes ownership of major storages

A year after its formation, the ownership and operational responsibilities of 17 major storages (13 state owned and four owned by the Murray Darling Basin Commission) were transferred to GMW. GMW now manages 23 major storages. Uniquely, GMW carries out most of its dam inspections internally. These are supplemented by comprehensive five-yearly inspections carried out by specialist consultants. Having our own team of skilled dam engineers who can respond to issues quickly helps us ensure the integrity and safety of our dams.  

1996: New Torrumbarry Weir completed

One of GMW’s first major infrastructure projects involved the completion of the new Torrumbarry Weir. In 1992, the original weir suffered major damage to its foundations and required replacement. The new weir was completed in 1996. It now diverts about 500,000 ML of water per year and is crucial to water security along the Murray River.

1997: GMW completes construction of its first fishways

Fishways are crucial to native fish populations. They allow fish to bypass infrastructure such as weirs and regulators, enabling them to travel freely between different stretches of river. The first fishways GMW constructed – in partnership with other agencies – were completed in 1997. They were located at all weirs along the lower system of the Broken Creek. In 2006, the Arthur Rylah Institute surveyed Murray Cod populations in the uppermost weir pools and found they had increased 500 per cent since the completion of the fishways. GMW has continued working with various agencies to construct new fishways, including at Tea Garden Weir, Taylors Creek, Koondrook, and Cohuna.

1998: Dam Improvement Program launched

The safety and integrity of our dams has always been a priority. In 1998, GMW launched its Dam Improvement Program. The Dam Improvement Program was a major venture to upgrade the dams GMW inherited to contemporary standards and to maximise community safety. The $37 million first phase of the work was funded equally by the Victorian Government and GMW. Some of the early works the program funded included the strengthening of Lake Eppalock’s embankment and upgrading the major outlet structure at Waranga Basin.

1999: Muckatah Catchment Strategy implemented

In 1999 an innovative drainage solution was used to improve agriculture productivity in the Muckatah Catchment. The 600 square kilometre catchment was struggling with saline water and a rising water table. The Muckatah Catchment Strategy addressing these issues was the first of its kind for a rural drainage scheme. It included an extensive network of vegetated floodways and created wetlands to aid with the filtration of sediments and associated nutrients, drastically reducing the impact on downstream waterways, and improving the productivity of the land. The project - completed by GMW and the Goulburn Broken CMA - was highly successful, and in October 1999, it was awarded an Engineering Excellence Award by the Victorian branch of the Institution of Engineers, Australia.

2000: Groundwater metering completed

2000 was a big year for groundwater in our region. Groundwater is water found beneath the earth's surface in pores and crevices of sand and rocks. In 2000, metering of groundwater pumps was completed for the Campaspe Deep Lead, Katunga Groundwater Supply Protection Area, and the Nagambie Groundwater Management Are. Considerable progress was also made metering other management areas. Groundwater Management Plans were also developed for the Campaspe Deep Lead, Katunga and Spring Hill Groundwater Supply Protection Areas. These plans help ensure water security and other water values are recognised. They define the environmental water requirements and outline how groundwater license holders can maximise the use of their entitlements. More information on how GMW manages groundwater can be found on the GMW website: How is groundwater managed? - Goulburn Murray Water (www.g-mwater.com.au/groundwater)

2001: Total Channel Control trialled

In 2001, we trialled Total Channel Control (TCC) for the first time. TCC refers to automatically controlled channels. It is a system of automated structures such as flume gates and meters that measure and control flows from the water source to customers properties in real-time. The pilot was an unbridled success. TCC is now rolled out across most of the Goulburn-Murray Irrigation District. It is crucial to the sustainability of irrigation in the region, not only removing the risk of excess water being delivered but helping GMW identify where there are leaks or problems with flowrates within its system.

2002: Yarrawonga Weir safety upgrade completed

In 2002 a $12.9 million project to upgrade the safety of Yarrawonga Weir was completed. Yarrawonga Weir was completed in 1939 and is located on the Murray River, about 230km downstream from Lake Hume By the turn of the millennium, it needed an upgrade. The works on the weir included strengthening the embankment’s foundations and installing ground anchors, improving the safety and longevity of the weir. GMW manages Yarrawonga Weir on behalf of the Murray-Darling Basin Authority.




More to come...

Taking the next step together

We are continuing to put customers at the forefront of our decision-making process.

We have a dedicated website for customers to provide their feedback on a range of projects. The website is frequently updated with new and ongoing projects from across the business.

To provide your feedback on topics ranging from recreational use to future service strategies head to our Your Say @ GMW website.