Gravity Irrigation Customer Newsletter

Monday 4 March, 2024

A message from Manager Distribution Services Greg Shannon

Photograph of Greg Shannon

Welcome to autumn newsletter for Gravity Irrigation and Domestic and Stock customers, which we hope has valuable information for you.

Autumn is our peak water-ordering time, so it’s important to proactively plan and place your irrigation orders to ensure we can deliver water to you in a timely manner.

While planning your autumn water needs, it’s also important to consider your winter water needs – during the irrigation off-season from 16 May, we dewater many of our channels so we can conduct maintenance and repair activities.

Consider filling your tanks and dams ahead of winter to secure water for this period.

This edition of our customer newsletter also includes important information about the latest seasonal determination and outlook for the season ahead, spillable water and planning your winter water needs.

Greg Shannon

Manager Distribution Services

Table of contents

Supply level update

GMW has been posting weekly supply level updates for Lake Eildon, Lake Eppalock, and Cairn Curran Reservoir on our social media. Below is the update for 29 February 2024.

At Lake Eildon, the storage is 95.7% of capacity and has continued to slowly fall over the last week. Inflows to the storage are shown by the orange line on the graph and are currently about 600 ML/d based on flows in the tributaries upstream of Lake Eildon.

Releases are currently at 2,750 ML per day, and releases close to the current rate are expected for the next week.

The initial filling target for Lake Eildon will commence at about 93% of capacity.

At Lake Eppalock, the storage continues to slowly fall and is now at 96.8% of capacity. Releases via the valve are currently at about 130 ML/d. Inflows to the storage are currently quite low around 5 ML/d.

At Cairn Curran Reservoir, the storage is 84.6% of capacity. Inflows to the storage remain very low and releases have increased over the past week to meet increased demands downstream. The current release is 190 ML/d.

Follow our social media for further updates. You can also visit our Managing Water Storages webpage for more information.

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Northern Victorian Resource Manager releases 2024/25 Seasonal Determination Outlook

On 15 February 2024, seasonal determinations announcement included:

Water System

High-Reliability Water Share

Low-Reliability Water Share

Murray

100%

85%

Broken

100%

100%

Goulburn

100%

77%

Campaspe

100%

100%

Loddon

100%

77%

Bullarook

100%

100%

Further resource improvements in the Murray, Goulburn and Loddon systems will contribute to increasing allocations to low-reliability water shares. The last seasonal determination update for 2023/24 will be on 1 April 2024.

An outlook for 2024/25 seasonal determinations was released on 15 February 2024. This outlook provides information about possible high-reliability water share seasonal determinations at nominated dates under different inflow scenarios for the Murray, Goulburn and Loddon, Broken and Bullarook systems. 

The outlook is available on the Northern Victoria Resource Manager website (opens in new window).An updated outlook will be released on 15 May 2024.

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Spillable water accounts

Water flowing through flume gate

Customers in the Goulburn and Campaspe systems still have allocation in spillable water accounts.

This is because the risk of spill at Lake Eildon and Lake Eppalock before the end of the 2023/24 water year is greater than 10 per cent.

At the time of publishing (i.e. early March), the total volume held in spillable water accounts is 342 GL in the Goulburn system and 5 GL in the Campaspe system.

The spill risks are updated on the 10th of each month or the next business day until a low risk has been declared. If the spill risk remains above 10 per cent, the allocation remaining in spillable water accounts on 10 June 2024 will return to allocation accounts for entitlement holders to factor into their carryover planning for 2024/25.

A low risk of spill was declared in the Murray system on 11 December 2023 and 116 GL was returned from Murray spillable water accounts.

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Above entitlement storage fees

Above entitlement storage fees apply if the total carryover and allocation available over the season is more than the full water share volume.

This ensures people who hold more water in storage than their entitlement volume contribute their fair share of storage costs. Fees do not apply to any water that spills, or any allocation traded in during the current season.

Like the fixed entitlement storage fees, above entitlement storage fees are paid by the water share owner. However, above entitlement storage fees cannot be raised until allocations are finished and the declaration has been made. These fees are not raised until late in the season, with the end of season variable charges accounts.

It is important to be aware that if you buy a water share prior to the above entitlement storage fees being raised, you will be liable for any above entitlement storage fees issued later in the year for that water share.

More information about above entitlement storage fees is available in a fact sheet at the Victorian Water Register website (opens in new window)

The charges for each basin for 2023/24 are:

  • Goulburn - $4.37 per ML
  • Campaspe - $18.21 per ML
  • Murray - $4.61 per ML

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Place of Take Approvals Framework

A photo of a river, paddocks and surrounding township.Victoria has introduced a new approach to water delivery entitlements that allows river diverters in declared systems to manage their own delivery risks.

The place of take approvals approach does not affect anyone’s water shares – it simply makes water users approvals to take water consistent and clarifies river diverters’ right (entitlement) to have that water delivered during the rare event of temporary rationing or shortfall.

The new framework provides water users:

  • More certainty about their rights to have water delivered down our rivers,
  • More flexibility to manage their own delivery risks, and
  • Confidence there are strong penalties to protect them from impacts of others taking more than their fair share during any river rationing.

This approach affects water users in Victorian declared systems, including the regulated Murray, Goulburn, Campaspe, Loddon, Broken, Ovens and Bullarook.

The Department of Energy, Environment and Climate Action (DEECA) has developed a series of fact sheets and frequently asked questions to explain the changes and what those changes mean for water users, which can be found at the Place of take approvals webpage (opens in new window).

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Loch Garry Future Service Strategy Community Reference Group announced

In November 2023, GMW established a community reference group to share experience and knowledge on the Loch Garry Flood Protection Service and the infrastructure it utilises.

The group is comprised of Loch Garry Flood Protection customers, community members, and representatives from key stakeholders.

It will be part of the Loch Garry Future Service Strategy that GMW is undertaking. The strategy has been initiated due to the current regulator at Loch Garry approaching the end of its life span, and the risk of more frequent and intense rainfall events going forth.

The group contains the following members:

  • Colin Gilby
  • Colin Grinter
  • John Pettigrew
  • Linton Ryan
  • Mackenzie Craig
  • Mathew Price
  • Nevil Hauffe
  • Sally McPherson
  • Stuart Grinter
  • Guy Tierney (Goulburn Broken Catchment Management Authority)
  • Louise Mitchell (Greater Shepparton City Council)
  • Josh Lewis (Moira Shire Council)

The inception meeting for the Community Reference Group was held on Wednesday 31 January – minutes from the meeting are now available at our Your Say @ GMW website (opens in new window).

Learn more about the reference group and stay up-to-date with its progress at the Your Say @ GMW website (opens in new window).

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Lake Eppalock technical assessment

The Lake Eppalock tower with the sunset in the background. Following the October 2022 floods, the Department of Energy, Environment and Climate Action (DEECA) undertook a technical assessment to determine if changing the operating and infrastructure arrangements at Lake Eppalock could improve protection for downstream communities from future flooding.

The Lake Eppalock Technical Assessment report was released in November 2023, and DEECA is now seeking feedback to better understand the benefits and negative impacts of the options investigated as part of the assessment.

Feedback is encouraged from all members of the community - Traditional Owners and groups, irrigators, downstream residents, recreational users and upstream landholders. 

For more information and to complete the 15-minute survey, go to the Engage Victoria website.

DEECA will also hold face-to-face sessions at the locations listed below if you wish to find out more information or have any queries.

Individuals or small groups are invited to book in for these sessions and you will be allocated a half an hour time slot where you can talk and ask questions to the project team.

A full list of these sessions is available at the Engage Victoria website.

To view the full Lake Eppalock Technical Assessment report, a summary technical report, explanatory note and a webinar, go to DEECA’s Lake Eppalock operating arrangements webpage (opens in new window).

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Kyabram GMW office closure

A photo of a channel regulator with solar panels. The Kyabram customer service centre office has permanently closed, and its services have transitioned to the Rochester customer service centre.

The Rochester office opening hours are Monday to Friday from 8.30am to 4.30pm.

Since the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, GMW has seen a significant decrease in foot traffic across its regional customer service centres – including Kyabram.

Even since the easing of restrictions, front counter inquiries remain well below pre-COVID-19 numbers.

With improvements in technology, GMW staff have been able to head straight to the field to meet a customer without needing to visit or meet at a GMW office.

GMW will also continue to offer appointments to speak to a staff member via the phone and on farm/site.

If you require a face-to-face appointment at the Rochester customer service centre, you can arrange this by:

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Consider carrying over your unused water

As the end of the 2023/24 season approaches, it’s worth considering your water options.

Carryover allows water entitlement holders on the Campaspe, Goulburn and Murray systems, the Bullarook and Loddon systems, and the Broken system to take their unused water allocation into the next season.

Unused allocation will automatically carry over as long as it is held in an allocation account (ABA) linked to your water shares on 30 June 2024.

The Victorian Water Register’s carryover calculator (opens in new window) is a helpful tool to understand how carryover rules work in northern Victoria and explore how carryover and allocations affect the amount of water available under your entitlements in different scenarios.

To discuss your carryover options, phone us on 1800 013 357.

More information can also be found at our website.

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Preparing for potential high water demand

Due to high allocations, customers have access to large volumes of entitlement for delivery.

This means there is a potential for high demand for consumptive use during autumn. In periods of high peak demand, particularly from March to May, channels may operate near capacity.

In instances where demand remains at capacity for only a short period, GMW will schedule irrigation orders to fit that demand. This ensures customers can generally receive their preferred duration and flow rate, albeit possibly at a time later or earlier than preferred.

If demand remains at capacity for an extended period, GMW may be required to enter into a “rationing cycle”. This restricts the volume of water available to a customer so the available capacity is shared.

We are asking customers to be prepared for potential high demand for water over the coming months. Orders for water can be placed up to 10 days in advance.

This means you should continue ordering water using GMW’s WaterLINE system. If demand for water does not remain at our channel delivery capacity for an extended period, there will be no change to order scheduling.

If the need to ration the available capacity arises, the duration of your orders may be altered in accordance with the amount of delivery share you hold.

Our Water Systems Operators will continue to manage the channels by moving and adjusting orders to optimise channel capacity, and will monitor the backlog of orders to determine if demand is likely to exceed channel capacity.

In the event that GMW needs to enter a rationing cycle, we will update customers who will potentially be affected via WaterLINE and text message with further information.

If you have any questions or would like to discuss your water needs, please phone our Customer Experience team on 1800 013 357.

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Managing the risk of shortfalls on the River Murray

Shortfalls can occur when water cannot be delivered to meet all the demands of customers at the time when they need it.

There has always been a risk that during peak period demands on the River Murray, water may not be able to be delivered to meet all demand downstream of the Barmah Choke.

The Murray-Darling Basin Authority (MDBA) manages the River Murray system, with input from GMW and Lower Murray Water, to minimise the risk of shortfalls.

When a shortfall occurs in the Murray, the MDBA will confirm the volume available for diversion. GMW will then ration the available water for distribution based on demand and the volume of Delivery Shares or Extraction Shares held in the areas where the shortfall applies.

As a result, delivery rights will be used as the basis for sharing arrangements between water users. This means it is essential that customers place accurate orders to register their needs for irrigation supply.

While we are not currently in an active shortfall situation, water users need to understand the risk of a shortfall. More information can be found at the MDBA website (opens in new window) and the GMW website.

More information on ordering water can be found in this newsletter, at our website or by phoning us on 1800 013 357.

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Plan for your winter water needs

A photo of a dam with a tree hanging over it.The 2023/24 irrigation season will finish on 15 May and the 2024/25 season will open on 15 August.

During the irrigation off-season, GMW lowers and dewaters channels to enable the crucial maintenance of our channel network.

GMW cannot guarantee that you will have access to water from the channel network for domestic and stock or irrigation purposes during this time, due to channel maintenance requirements. Your channel could be drawn down at any point during the winter period.

GMW encourages our gravity irrigation and domestic and stock customers to plan for their winter water needs and consider filling their dams and tanks before 15 May to guarantee a winter water supply.

For more information, including any questions you have, please phone the GMW Customer Experience team on 1800 013 357 and they will connect you to your local Customer Service Manager.

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Ordering water

Gravity irrigation customers must order water before using it, and use must accurately reflect the flow rate and ordered duration.

Without placing an order, you are taking water without authority and may be subject to penalties under the Water Act. It is illegal to take and use more water than allowed under your entitlement.

Please ensure you have the right authorisations before taking water from a dam, bore, stream, river or creek.

Placing an order for water also means we are able to accurately account for how much water was used if a meter fails. All gravity irrigation customers have the ability to monitor their seasonal usage through WaterLINE. It also allows you to record your own meter readings and produce a Water Usage Statement that summarises water usage for the current season. This report details your seasonal allocation, any movement of water in and out through trade; and how much is available allocation remaining to use, trade or carryover into the next season.

If you haven’t used WaterLINE before or have lost or misplaced your User Number or PIN, please call the GMW Customer Experience team on 1800 013 357. We will connect you with your local Customer Relationship Coordinator who will help get you started. Alternatively, you can visit the WaterLINE website.

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Water Efficiency Project update

An infographic of the Water Efficiency Project at a glance.The Water Efficiency Project (WEP) has followed in the footsteps of the successful Connections Project enhancing the agricultural productivity and overall prosperity of our region.

Funded by the Australian Government for $177.5 million, the Water Efficiency Project (WEP) has delivered over 15.9 GL of annual water savings. This was achieved by improving water efficiency and irrigation standards for over 1000 customers across the Goulburn-Murray Irrigation District. 

As of October 2023, the Water Efficiency Project (WEP) has completed all works required to achieve the water savings target of 15.9GL.

WEP has upgraded and automated infrastructure across the Goulburn-Murray Irrigation District, reducing water lost to channel leakage and seepage, as well as inaccurate water meters. 

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Stock on channels

It’s important to keep your stock off irrigation channel banks. We ask that you erect a fence alongside your channel if you don’t have one already.

Allowing stock to drink from channels, rather than from a trough, can do significant damage to channel banks. This includes reduction in soil health and water quality, and the loss of instream habitats.

If stock damage on channel banks is identified, one of our Field Officers will speak to you to ensure damage does not reoccur.

Any stock damage that occurs after you have been contacted will be repaired by GMW, at your expense.

Repairing channel banks can be costly, which can impact on customer prices. All irrigators benefit from our channels being in good condition, and we all play a role in maintaining them.

GMW asks for your cooperation in this matter and avoid stock drinking directly from channels.

If you have any questions, please phone our Customer Experience team on 1800 013 357.

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Keeping our staff safe at work

A photo of a staff member performing maintenance work on a regulator.GMW has a zero tolerance of aggressive behaviour both physically and verbally towards our staff.

Sometimes we are required to undertake emergency maintenance on our assets, which often calls out of hours. Please be understanding of this – our staff have the right to safe workplaces.

Our commitments to you:

  • We will notify you if we need to enter your property out of normal operating hours
  • We will be in GMW uniform
  • Our vehicle will be identifiable - the hazard lights will be on and the vehicle will be branded
  • We will carry identification
  • We will attempt to fix the issue as quickly as possible.

If you have concerns about a person on your property, you can call GMW's emergency number on 1800 064 184 and we will confirm whether they are a GMW employee.

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Key GMW services

Decorative Icon with text MyGMW MyGMW - is our secure online portal used to manage your GMW account online.

Go to MyGMW (opens in a new window)

Decorative Icon SMS in speech bubble SMS - services enable you to receive reminders of when your water order is to start and stop.

Go to WaterLINE Online to subscribe (opens in a new window)

Decorative Icon SMS in speech bubble Our Dams Email - provides water storage and dam levels straight to your inbox on a daily, weekly or monthly basis.

View GMW's email subscription options.

Storage levels and inflows

You can access up-to-date volume level of all lakes, reservoirs and dams managed by GMW at any time on our Storage Levels pages.

EILDON

91.82%
93.3%
97.5%
95.2%
97.0%
96.3%
99.7%
98.7%
98.1%
97.9%
95.7%
93.0%
91.8%
May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Jan Feb Mar Apr

Your Say @ GMW

It is important that we regularly engage with you, our customers, on topics that matter to you. We want your input, knowledge, thoughts and advice. Visit Your Say @ GMW website (opens in a new window)to register for the latest events and webinars and to find out which projects and topics we’re engaging on with our customers, stakeholders and communities.

Update your details

It’s important we have your details up to date to ensure you receive all the latest news, incident and service interruption information and account reminders from GMW. This includes your address, mobile number and email address. Please use our Update your details online form or call the GMW Customer Experience team on 1800 013 357 for assistance.

Payment options

GMW has a number of flexible payment options available to assist customers in managing their bills including:

  • instalment options
  • early payment discounts
  • flexible payment plans; and
  • payment extensions.

Our team is committed to working with customers to manage their bills. For more information visit our Payment Assistance page or phone the GMW Customer Experience team on 1800 013 357.

Water quality

Water supplied by GMW is not suitable for human consumption without first being properly treated. Human consumption includes  showering,  bathing,  washing,  cooking,  ice making and  drinking.

This includes water supplied at some of our facilities (e.g. parks adjacent to GMW storages).

For more information refer to our Don't drink the water page.

Do the right thing this irrigation season

Take responsibility for your water use.

Please remember:

  • It is illegal to take and use more water than allowed under your entitlement
  • before you take and use water, make sure you:
    • have the right authorisations
    • have enough water available in your entitlement and allow enough time for temporary or permanent trades to be processed
    • check your meter reading and water usage against your licenced volume; and
    • check if restrictions and/or bans apply.
  • it is your responsibility to ensure your ABA balance remains positive throughout the year.

We take a zero-tolerance approach to water theft and will fine customers who take too much water or take water without a water share.

If you see something, say something. To report an alleged offence, you can phone us on 1800 013 357, email compliance@gmwater.com.au or submit an  online form.


Talk to us

8.30 am to 4.30 pm, Monday to Friday

1800 013 357

For all emergencies

24 hours, 7 days a week

1800 064 184

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