Embracing opportunity for further modernisation

Tuesday 18 August, 2020

As Managing Director of Australia’s largest rural water corporation, I am reminded every day that reliability and efficiency of the irrigation delivery system underpin the future prosperity of our region.

Continuous improvement of our business and its operations, innovation and regular engagement with customers, are the cornerstones for Goulburn-Murray Water (GMW) in achieving this prosperity into the future.

In 2012, the Victorian Government signed up to the Murray Darling Basin Plan (MDBP). Unlike other states, Victoria’s focus to recover water for the plan has always been on infrastructure upgrades; through modernisation of the system, this strategy avoids water leaving the consumptive pool.

Under the MDBP the states are collectively obligated to achieve 62 gigalitres of water recovery through water efficiency projects in order to gain credit for the 605 gigalitres of Sustainable Diversion Limits environmental offset projects – also allowed under the Plan. These offset projects represent investment in regional communities, good outcomes for the environment and mean no recovery of water from farming communities. And the states have agreed that the water efficiency projects towards the 62 gigalitres must meet the socio economic test – that is, they must be good for communities.

GMW is now working with the Victorian Government to identify water efficiency projects in our region – that meet the socio economic test - that can count towards the 62 gigalitres. We have written to customers and engaged with water services committees on a $177 million proposal to modernise sections of the delivery system spanning the GMID and focusing on one of the district’s most intensively farmed agricultural zones, which is also an area of high water loss. Under our proposal about 1,000 customers would benefit from modernising or decommissioning more than 250 km of channels and upgrading or rationalising more than 1,000 outlets. Water savings totalling 15.9 GL will be achieved. The important factor is these water savings will not be taken from the consumptive pool and will help meet Victoria’s commitment.

I would also stress these projects are in addition to the Connections Project – and are not because of any shortfalls in the Connections Project which is on track to meet its water saving and budgetary requirements.

We are now asking for feedback on our proposal and invite you to take part in a short survey under the “Your Say” section of our website. Once we have finalised input from our customers, we will submit the project proposal to the Victorian Government. The Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning will then undertake consultation during August against the criteria in the socio-economic test to assess the impact of the works on the broader region. For more information please visit our Your Say webpage.

The Connections Project is proof of success when it comes to saving water through capturing losses and not drawing from irrigators’ consumptive pool.

In October, the Connections Project will have achieved its water savings goal. Through modernisation, this project is capturing 429 GL of water as a long-term average, each year, once lost to the system. This good news story makes the Connections Project a solid platform to launch further modernisation works, drawing on this finely tuned delivery model.

Just like irrigators adapting to a changing climate, producing more with less land, less water and fewer materials, we are also adapting. GMW’s vision, just like its customers, is a fair, affordable and efficient irrigation delivery system now and for decades to come. And that’s exactly what we are building. Further modernisation of our delivery system presents our region with a remarkable opportunity.

Afterall, this is our GMID and our GMW.

Charmaine Quick,

Managing Director

Goulburn-Murray Water