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The $146.88 million Northern Midlands Irrigation Scheme in Tasmania has had its business case approved – including three pump stations and 157.3km of pipeline. 

The approval follows a very positive response to water sales from farmers, with the irrigation scheme hoping to enable farmers to diversify, add value and expand existing operations.

Tasmanian Irrigation redesigned the Northern Midlands Irrigation Scheme due to significantly increased demand from irrigators, with the scheme to increase from 13,000ML to 25,500ML. 

The $146.88 million scheme would be funded by the Federal and Tasmanian Governments with $36.72 million from farmers through water purchases.

Under the Business Case, three pump stations and 157.3km of pipeline will deliver high surety water over a 180-day summer irrigation season, with construction due to start in 2022 and scheduled for completion in October 2024.

The scheme is expected to create 90 full-time jobs during construction and support up to 222 direct jobs once fully operational. 

The private on-farm investment undertaken by farmers taking up entitlements is estimated at around $81.98 million.

Member of the Tasmanian House of Assembly, representing the Division of Lyons and Parliamentary Secretary to the Premier, Guy Barnett, said the Business Case would now be considered by the National Water Grid Authority, and that the Scheme is designed to allow farmers across the region to expand the area planted to high-value crops, increase rotations, boost yields, and diversify into new enterprises, such as wine grapes, leafy-green vegetables and berries.

“Having delivered 16 new irrigation schemes and the Greater Meander Valley Irrigation Scheme, Tasmania is the envy of the nation and we are getting on with the job, investing more than $30 million in the 2021-22 Tasmanian Budget to continue delivering our nation-leading irrigation projects,” Mr Barnett said.

“This is a key element in our comprehensive Agri-Food Plan to grow the value of agriculture to $10 billion by 2050.’’

Senator for Tasmania, Claire Chandler, said agriculture is the cornerstone of the Tasmanian economy, which is why the Federal and Tasmanian Governments are jointly investing $185 million to deliver irrigation infrastructure to support rural and regional Tasmania, creating jobs and expanding farm production to meet the growing demand for Tasmania’s premium produce.

“We’ll continue to work closely with the Tasmanian Government to deliver this and other irrigation projects around the state,” Ms Chandler said.

When completed, the Tasmanian Government’s Pipeline to Prosperity state-wide irrigation plan is expected to provide almost 78,000ML of water, create up to 2,600 full-time jobs, trigger an additional $150 million in on-farm private investment and inject an estimated $114 million each year into the sector, and the economy more broadly. 

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