Gravity Irrigation Newsletter

Thursday 3 March, 2022

A message from Manager Distribution Services Greg Shannon.

Photograph of Greg Shannon

Welcome to our autumn newsletter for Gravity Irrigation and Domestic and Stock customers.

We hope that our new and more frequent e-newsletters are providing you with valuable information on how to manage your water and what’s on the horizon for the coming months.

Autumn is our peak water-ordering time, and is especially so this year with some drier conditions and good volume in our storages.

This means it’s important for you to plan and place your irrigation orders to ensure we can deliver water to you in a timely manner.

Our Water Systems Operators are on deck 24/7 during the irrigation season to help you manage your water needs, so don’t hesitate to touch base with the team if you need assistance.

With the end of season approaching in May, it’s also important to plan for your winter water needs – during the irrigation off-season, we dewater many of our channels to undertake important maintenance activities.

It is not guaranteed there will be water in your channel during this time, so consider filling your tanks and dams ahead of winter to secure water for that period.

Our Customer Service Centres have now reopened, which means you can come see us if you need any assistance. Our staff are on hand to help with any query you may have - you can also reach us by phoning 1800 013 357, or by booking an appointment online with us.

We look forward to seeing you in person now that our offices are able to reopen.

Greg Shannon
Manager Distribution Services, GMW

Planning and placing your irrigation orders

A monitoring station on a channelAs a result of good rainfall during the 2021/22 irrigation season, customers have access to large volumes of allocation for delivery at the start of 2022.

This has created a situation where demand for water during autumn 2022 is likely to be significantly higher than in recent years if conditions remain dry.

So we are asking all customers to plan and place irrigation orders, in a timely manner, to ensure the supply and delivery of water.

To ensure your water is debited against the correct allocation account, please make sure you continue to place your orders on GMW’s ordering system WaterLINE over the phone, online or by accessing our GMW app from a smart phone or tablet.

It allows you to place irrigation orders, communicate with us and monitor your water usage based on the allocation and entitlement you hold.

For assistance using WaterLINE online contact GMW on 1800 013 357 Monday to Friday.

You can also download our WaterLINE online manual for step-by-step instructions.

Water use compliance

In August 2019, Victoria passed the Water and Catchments Legislative Amendment Act 2019 (Amendment Act) that strengthens penalties and enforcement measures and makes it easier to prosecute offences. The Amendment Act has:

  • increased the maximum fine for intentional water theft and related offences if they cause substantial harm, to $990,000 for companies and $198,000 for individuals,
  • allowed for the suspension or cancellation of licences for taking water and works, and
  • enabled water corporations to issue penalty infringement notices for less serious offences.

With tougher penalties and new enforcement measures, the Amendment Act makes it clear offences such as misuse of water or water theft will be addressed seriously.

New penalty infringement notices for water theft and other offences

New regulations are in place to enable GMW to fine water users for water theft and other offences by issuing penalty infringement notices (PINs).

These are in place as part of Victoria’s Zero Tolerance to Unauthorised Take of Non-Urban Water, which supports equity of access to our limited water resources. Ensuring that everyone adheres to the terms of their water entitlements protects those who are doing the right thing.

GMW is proactively monitoring customer account balances, identifying even small volumes of water theft and enabling a swift compliance and enforcement response.

Under the Water Act 1989 (the Act), you are responsible for adhering to the conditions of your licence. Whist most people are responsible and abide by their licence conditions, each year a small number of users break the law.

Water theft affects everyone in your community and it is important that individual water users do not adversely impact other users or Victoria’s environmental values.

Be aware that from 2022 you may be fined if you do not follow the terms of your licence and adhere to your entitlement.

More information can be found at https://www.gmwater.com.au/compliance

Plan for your winter water needs

The 2021/22 irrigation season will finish on 15 May and the 2022/23 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.

Water running through a channel network

We 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.

We encourage 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 our Customer Experience Team on 1800 013 357 and they will connect you to your local Customer Service Manager.

Consider carrying over your unused water

Irrigating a fieldAs the end of the 2021/22 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 bank account (ABA) linked to your water shares on 30 June 2022.

The Victorian Water Register’s carryover calculator, opens in a 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 here.

Seasonal determination and outlook

The Resource Manager for northern Victoria updated the 2021/22 seasonal determinations on Tuesday February 15.

The Murray system increases from 100 per cent of high-reliability water shares (HRWS) and 72 per cent of low-reliability water shares (LRWS) to 100 per cent HRWS and 100 per cent LRWS.

The Goulburn, Campaspe and Loddon systems remain at 100 per cent HRWS.

Seasonal determinations in the Broken and Bullarook systems stay at the maximum possible 100 per cent HRWS and 100 per cent LRWS.

Resource Manager Mark Bailey said very wet conditions in the Murray system improved the volume available for allocation.

“January rainfall was very much above average, which generated strong flows into both Dartmouth Reservoir and Lake Hume,” Dr Bailey said.

“The additional resource helped the Murray seasonal determinations reach maximum availability for the first time since the introduction of the current entitlement products in 2007.”

Find out more at the Resource Manager website - https://nvrm.net.au/seasonal-determinations/current

An outlook for the 2022/23 season was also released last week, with Dr Bailey noting that reserves built so far in 2021/22 had laid strong foundations for next season.

“Average inflow conditions should see all of the northern Victorian systems reach seasonal determinations of 100 per cent HRWS by mid-October 2022,” he said.

The full outlook for the 2022/23 season can be found at the Resource Manager website - https://nvrm.net.au/outlooks/current-outlook

Gravity Irrigation Service Plans update

GMW is continuing to partner with customers in the development of its Service Plans which will outline how services are managed in to the future.

The Gravity Irrigation Service Plan engagement program is well underway with an online survey and series of focus groups held late last year. After reviewing the feedback, a series of workshops for Gravity Irrigation customers will be held during April/May 2022 to further inform the development of the Gravity Irrigation Service Plan. More information on this engagement opportunity will be communicated closer to the time.

If you’d like more information on the engagement already undertaken as part of the service plan development, and the topline feedback received, please visit https://www.gmwater.com.au/service-plans

Goulburn to Murray Trade Rule Operating Plan

A river

The Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP), in partnership with Goulburn Murray Water, Goulburn Broken CMA, Lower Murray Water and Traditional Owner groups are working to collect more information about the impact of interim Goulburn to Murray trade and operating rules that have been in place through 2021/22.

The information collected this year to help support a government decision includes working with environmental water managers, scientists, river operators, Traditional Owners and recreational stakeholders to undertake more analysis about the ecological, cultural, recreational, operational and trade impacts of trade and operating rules for the lower Goulburn River. It will also include looking at ways the trade and operating rules could be refined for better balanced outcomes.

A summary of the outcomes of the interim year is planned for release in April. To find out more about the Goulburn to Murray trade review visit Victorian Water Register website.

Irrigators’ Share Distribution update

Fruit trees in a rowAre you interested in buying water shares?

GMW is now selling water through the Irrigators Share Distribution process to fund the financial benefit to eligible customers with less than 0.25ML/day of delivery share. Water shares will be released weekly for sale via a public online auction through Waterfind.

About 1220 ML of High Reliability Water Shares (HRWS) and 690 ML of Low Reliability Water Shares (LRWS) will be sold in a range of parcel sizes to enable buyers to participate, regardless of their budget.

Parcels of water shares will be assigned to Waterfind P/L weekly on a Friday until April 2022. Parcels will range in size from 7.3 ML to 265 ML.

More information on these auctions and the Water Trading Strategy can be found on here.

Spillable water accounts

In the Murray, Goulburn and Campaspe systems, if the volume of allocation you carried over plus what you received from this year’s seasonal determination is greater than the volume of your high and low-reliability water shares, then the volume above your water share is transferred into a spillable water account.

Allocation held in spillable water accounts is not available for use or trade until the risk of spill in your particular system falls below 10 per cent. Deductions from spillable water accounts occur when Lake Hume, Lake Eildon or Lake Eppalock spill or water is released keep the storage level close to full.

The Murray Darling Basin Authority have been managing releases from Lake Hume to maintain the storage close the full supply level from August into early February.

This has meant customers with allocation in spillable water accounts will have seen deductions from those accounts. So far, about 610,000 ML has been deducted from spillable water accounts in the Murray system.

It is unusual for Lake Hume to be close to full supply level at the end of January.

For customers in the Goulburn or Campaspe systems, no deductions from spillable water accounts occurred the season and all water held in these accounts was returned in November and October respectively.

Dam

Consolidating customer accounts

People talking over a fenceWith GMW fixed charges accounts set to be sent out in the coming months, it’s important for customers to consider whether they need to consolidate any customer accounts.

If you’ve had any new accounts set up or have purchased a new property in the last year, it might be a good option to consolidate your accounts.

To consolidate your accounts please complete and return to GMW the Consolidated Customer Account application form.

Consolidating accounts can save you on the number Customer Fees you are charged.

If you have any questions, please phone us on 1800 013 357.

Stock on channels

Cattle on a channelRemember to keep your stock off irrigation channel banks.

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.
We ask 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.

Talk to us

8 am to 4.45 pm, Monday to Friday

1800 013 357

For all emergencies

24 hours, 7 days a week

1800 064 184

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