This month we received confirmation of the exciting next step in our region’s irrigation future with the announcement of funding for the Goulburn-Murray Water (GMW) Water Efficiency Project. The Commonwealth Government has invested $177.5 million into the project, which will deliver 15.9GL in water savings and further modernise the Goulburn Murray Irrigation District (GMID).
This is a win-win situation for our region – more than 1000 customers will see improved irrigation standards, and around 900 regional jobs are expected to be generated during construction. The project builds on the success of the Connections Project, which finished in October 2020, by providing better levels of service to more farmers and rationalising some aging parts of the irrigation system.
The 15.9GL of environmental water savings will be achieved by modernising or decommissioning more than 250km of channels and upgrading or rationalising more than 1000 outlets. Investment in off-farm infrastructure in the GMID supports the regional economy and the viability of our district.
It also helps meet Victoria’s obligations as part of the Murray Darling Basin Plan, and avoids water buy-backs by the Commonwealth Government.
Most importantly, the water recovered for the environment via this project does not impact the consumptive pool – water is not taken from farmers, but instead comes from improved infrastructure, less leaky channels, and better automation of water delivery.
The project presents an exciting opportunity for our communities and for the future of irrigation in our district. GMW plays a vital part in northern Victorian local communities – our role in delivering reliable, affordable water and providing other water-based services drives a regional economy that underpins our collective prosperity.
In turn, this enhances the wellbeing of our communities – the communities where we raise our families, work and volunteer.
Further modernisation of our irrigation network will support these communities and ensure that our customers continue to grow the world-class food and fibre our region is so well-known for. Such modernisation also encourages and supports other innovations that can leverage some of the new technology, such as the SmartFarms being explored by Agriculture Victoria, two of which are based in the GMID.
It was important to us that this project have positive outcomes for our region. Consultation on the project first opened in August 2020 with a focus on the socio-economic impacts of water recovery and of the project itself. The project needed to meet the socio-economic criteria agreed at Ministerial Council in 2018 to demonstrate that the project shall not create adverse socio-economic impacts for the community in order to be funded.
In essence it had to support the viability of our irrigation district, have no impact on the price of water, support regional economies through job creation and give regional Victorian communities a chance to have their say. We were proud to see that the majority of feedback during consultation showed that respondents agreed that the project would have neutral or positive socio-economic outcomes.
The prosperity and viability of our region into the future is vital to all of us, and this project demonstrates ongoing confidence in our ability to deliver reliable, affordable water to our customers, who in turn use it to grow world-class produce, food and fibre.