A Tasmanian utility and power and water consulting firm have won the Australian Engineering Excellence Awards (AEEA) Tasmania 2016 in the category ‘Control Systems, Networks, Information Processing and Telecommunications’.

Tasmanian Irrigation, and consulting firm Entura received the award for the Meander Dam integrated water management system.

The AEEA Tasmania 2016 Awards seek to identify, recognise and reward outstanding achievement in the practice of engineering and service to the profession, promoting industry excellence across engineering projects and engineering professionals.

Designed, developed and delivered by Entura, the Meander Dam integrated water management system provides accurate information to help Tasmanian Irrigation Effectively manage its Meander Dam water storage and associated hydropower facility in northern Tasmania.

The system allows Tasmanian Irrigation to deliver certainty of irrigation supply to water users while also optimising power production, and ensuring dam safety.

Tasmanian Irrigation CEO Nicola Morris said, “We’re delighted to have partnered with Entura to develop the Meander Dam integrated water management system and are thrilled about winning such a prestigious award.

“The value created by the water management system was particularly evident during the 2015–16 irrigation season, in which the region experienced below-average rainfall that resulted in reduced inflows into Meander Dam and increased demand for water supply to irrigators.

“We were able to match demand from predicted storage levels, fulfilling irrigator expectations and retaining sufficient storage capacity to be able to extend the delivery for an additional month. This ensured that irrigators were able to finish final crops and also maintain pasture growth for livestock and dairy activities.”

Meander Dam is the centrepiece of the Meander Valley Irrigation Scheme, one of the largest irrigation schemes in Tasmania. The dam was completed in 2007 and holds 43 000ML of water, supplying five irrigation regions servicing pasture and cropping land.

Entura Power and Water Director Angus Swindon said, “The Meander Dam integrated water management system is an information gathering and processing system, as well as an easy-to-interpret, customised decision-support platform for optimising management and control of an integrated irrigation and hydropower system.”

Powered by Entura’s Ajenti Data Management System, the system harnesses real-time rainfall and flow monitoring data captured by a network of catchment telemetry, and integrates this information with short-term and long-term Bureau of Meteorology forecasts and a hydrological model of the catchment.

Via a user-friendly dashboard interface, Tasmanian Irrigation has an up-to-date picture of the dam’s status and the probability of various possible short-term and long-term scenarios of storage level and hydropower output.

Real-time information from water meters on pumps within the irrigation area is also brought into the system to give the operator a complete water balance in the area fed by the dam.

“Access to such robust and reliable information supports appropriate management decision making, such as whether and when to release water, and the extent and timing of hydropower operation,” Ms Morris said.

“Increased hydropower operation reaps a dual benefit from the water resource, helping to offset our operational costs, enabling greater delivery of service throughout Tasmania, benefiting not only the local community but the whole Tasmanian agricultural sector.”

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