With the help of Murrumbidgee Irrigation (MI), Wah Wah Stock and Domestic farmers have begun installing their new on-farm systems, and are fast becoming their own Private Irrigation District.
The $48.7 million Wah Wah Stock and Domestic Pipeline Project forms part of the almost $348 million in funding MI will receive under the various rounds of the Australian Government’s Private Irrigation Infrastructure Operators Program in New South Wales.
Off-farm works will include the construction of a 280km Gunbar Water Pipeline and 14 private pipelines, as well as pumping stations and outlets.
The problem with the current supply system is that it is inefficient, with water conveyed from Barren Box Storage along the Wah Wah main channel and into 1,590km of earth channels, to fill more than 600 in-ground tanks on farmers’ properties. Losses from evaporation, seepage and unauthorised access are high, resulting in an overall distribution efficiency of less than 22 per cent.
Wah Wah farmer, Bruce McLean, commenced on-farm works in July 2017, with most of his piping now in the ground ready for connection to the Gunbar Water Pipeline in late 2018.
“The current system does the job but is wasteful and unfair, in terms of the pricing structure,” Mr McLean said.
“The only way to make it fair was to put this pipeline in.”
The project is set to benefit Wah Wah farmers through improved levels of service, with year-round access to the river and bores, pressurised water supply and measured water use, which can be remotely monitored.
Mr McLean did his own on-farm works with the assistance of a specially engineered pipe distribution device, which he designed and built himself.
“The Australian Government is providing the on-farm materials and in turn our part of the bargain is doing the works,” Mr McLean said.
“I am more than happy with that arrangement. It is just a relief it is almost in and all the preparation is now coming to fruition.”
Mr McLean will be one of the first farmers in the Wah Wah district to have completed his on-farm works.
“The works have been planned for a while and we have been at it with the installation over the past four months,” Mr McClean said.
“I was keen to get started as soon as possible, so when the materials arrived I dived straight into the work.”