$103 million in funding has been secured for the for modernisation of irrigation infrastructure in Sunraysia, in northwestern Victoria and southwestern New South Wales.
The Federal funding had previously been mooted but was finally confirmed last week. Chair of Lower Murray Water, Leonie Burrows said that the announcement was ‘fantastic news’.
“It is a sign of the confidence that both the State and Commonwealth Governments have in our future.” Mrs Burrows said “It is a great shot in the arm for the local economy and underpins the recent trend of redevelopments that we are starting to see across our region in the irrigated horticulture sector.”
“We are looking forward to working with the Mildura Development Corporation to amend the concept business case and to maximise the benefits to all irrigators from this significant investment in the region. Ideally we would like to see pipelining of some of the main channels which will rovide 365 day water supply to irrigators where pipelining is achievable. This pipelining will also improve public safety and save water”.
The amended concept business case will seek to identify where the target of 7GL of water savings can be achieved. This could include ‘hot-spot’ leakage areas in the old channel systems and in the older pipelined areas where leakage and pipe failure are regular occurrences.
“In addition we would like to see state of the art metering installed across the district to significantly reduce the amount of unaccounted water that currently passes through our systems”.
The modernisation could be the catalyst to attract new entrants to the irrigation districts of Merbein, Mildura and Red Cliffs and could help with rural adjustment in this sector.
Third party investment will complement the modernisation and will be able to take advantage of reconfiguration opportunities as new infrastructure is being planned.
Modernisation could include state of the art metering and telemetry to enable real time information on water extraction and usage to be available to irrigators, Lower Murray Water and to the Victorian Water Register.
Lower Murray Water has already programmed $23M to modernisation of the Red Cliffs and Mildura Central pump stations in their current capital works program. These works will complement the $103M in additional modernisation funding making a total investment of $126M into the region’s irrigation infrastructure over the next few years.
“We are also keen to engage with our customer committees on modernisation and are looking to develop an overarching customer reference group for this project.” Mrs Burrows concluded.