Private Irrigation Infrastructure Operators Program in New South Wales

 Mark Mohell

Irrigation infrastructure near Griffith, NSW

The $650 million Private Irrigation Infrastructure Operators Program (PIIOP) in New South Wales aims to acquire water entitlements resulting from water savings generated from eligible projects by private irrigation infrastructure operators that improve the efficiency and productivity of water use and management, both off and on-farm, helping to secure a sustainable future for irrigation communities.

PIIOP projects will allow private irrigation infrastructure operators and their customers to reduce water losses and manage their water allocations more efficiently. They will also assist irrigation communities to adapt to a future scenario of reduced water availability due to climate change. PIIOP is one of the major elements of the Inter-Governmental Agreement on Murray-Darling Basin Reform.

Nine projects have been approved to date for funding of around $642 million that improve the efficiency of irrigation systems and on-farm water use, through measures such as modernising irrigation channels, installing pumped pipeline systems and constructing secure stock and domestic water delivery systems.

Overall, the projects will provide the Commonwealth with 112 billion litres of water on average over the long-term every year, to help bridge the gaps identified in the Murray Darling Basin Plan. The investment in infrastructure projects will also help to boost the economic and social outcomes for regional communities.

Projects Funded Under PIIOP

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Round 1

Under the first round of the Private Irrigation Infrastructure Operators Program (PIIOP) in New South Wales, a total of $255.6 million in funding was granted to five irrigation infrastructure operators.

Marthaguy Irrigation Scheme

The Funding Agreement for Marthaguy Irrigation Scheme's Round 1 PIIOP project was executed on 13 August 2010 and was completed in June 2012.

Marthaguy received funding of $9,407,190 and has transferred water entitlements that will return 2,070 ML on average over the long-term every year to the Commonwealth to help bridge the gap in the Macquarie catchment identified in the Murray Darling Basin Plan. This project involved:

  • decommissioning part of the Scheme below the Charlieville off-take;
  • installing an improved irrigation management system (that includes a river level gauge, channel gauges, metering of farm off takes and a telemetry system that allows for the remote control of the irrigation system - total channel control); and
  • installing a 60 km stock and domestic pipeline for water supply for farmers.

Coleambally Irrigation Cooperative

The Funding Agreement for Coleambally Irrigation Cooperative's Round 1 PIIOP project was executed on 7 January 2011 and is anticipated to be completed in June 2014.

Coleambally received funding of $43,764,727 and will transfer water entitlements to the Commonwealth that will return 9,568 ML on average over the long-term every year to the Commonwealth to help bridge the gap in the Murrumbidgee catchment identified in the Murray Darling Basin Plan. This project involves:

  • lining 10 km of the main delivery system's channel to target known water loss hotspots;
  • upgrading water delivery infrastructure on 80 farms in the main Coleambally area and 13 farms in the West Coleambally Channel area; and
  • installing total channel control in the 30 km Kerarbury Channel and the 150 km West Coleambally Channel.

Tenandra (Nejuru Pty Ltd)

The Funding Agreement for Tenandra's (Nejuru Pty Ltd) Round 1 PIIOP project was executed on 12 July 2010 and is anticipated to be completed in November 2014.

Tenandra received funding of $37,475,140 and will transfer water entitlements to the Commonwealth that will return 5,251 ML on average over the long-term every year to the Commonwealth to help bridge the gap in the Macquarie catchment identified in the Murray Darling Basin Plan. This project involves:

  • constructing two new pump stations and associated power connections;
  • installing 1100 m of large capacity syphons under creeks and water courses;
  • constructing 22 km of new water delivery channels and 34 new structures;
  • clay lining 12 km of existing water delivery channels and 2 km of new channel;
  • decommissioning 58 km of water delivery channels, 22 structures and the existing pump site;
  • retirement of 6 farms from irrigation;
  • installing 24 new offtake gates with 24 meters;
  • installing 19 new regulating gates, 3 with new meters;
  • channel reshaping of 20 km of existing channel; and
  • upgrading water delivery infrastructure on 3 farms.

Trangie-Nevertire Co-operative Ltd

The Funding Agreement for Trangie-Nevertire Co-operative Ltd's Round 1 PIIOP project was executed on 4 January 2011 and the project is anticipated to be completed in December 2014.

Trangie received funding of $115,000,000 and will transfer water entitlements to the Commonwealth that will return 11,516 ML on average over the long-term every year to the Commonwealth to help bridge the gap in the Macquarie catchment identified in the Murray Darling Basin Plan. This project involves:

  • reducing the size of the Scheme by approximately one third, including removing 82 km of water delivery channels and removing the irrigation supply to 19 properties;
  • reshaping and lining 153 km of water delivery channels;
  • installing 58 upgrades of structures;
  • installing 64 new structures, 20 unmetered gates, 38 metered farm outlets and 9 metered telemetry structures;
  • including upgrading the water delivery infrastructure on 28 farms; and
  • installing a 250 km stock and domestic water supply pipeline to supply water to 85 properties.

Murrumbidgee Irrigation Ltd

The Funding Agreement for Murrumbidgee Irrigation Ltd's Round 1 PIIOP project was executed on 16 June 2011 and is anticipated to be completed in May 2015.

Murrumbidgee Irrigation received funding of $50,000,000 and will transfer water entitlements to the Commonwealth that will return 5,700 ML on average over the long-term every year to the Commonwealth to help bridge the gap in the Murrumbidgee catchment identified in the Murray Darling Basin Plan. This project involves:

  • replacing a deteriorating concrete-lined channel supply system with an integrated water supply system of 13.8 km of new pipelines and 21.8 km of refurbished open channels (35.6 km in total) in the Lake Wyangan area;
  • reinstatement of 81 farm outlet structures and replacement of 91 metered outlet structures with electromagnetic flow meters;
  • installation of remote monitoring on 213 metered farm outlets; and
  • automation of remaining open channels.

Round 2

Under Round 2 of PIIOP, up to $386.4 million in grant funding has been offered to four irrigation infrastructure operators.

Coleambally Irrigation Cooperative

The Funding Agreement for the Coleambally Irrigation Cooperative's Round 2 PIIOP project was executed on 29 June 2012 and is anticipated to be completed in September 2015.

Coleambally received funding of $7,350,000 and will transfer water entitlements to the Commonwealth that will return 1,641 ML on average over the long-term every year to the Commonwealth to help bridge the gap in the Murrumbidgee catchment identified in the Murray Darling Basin Plan. This project involves:

  • constructing a 600 ML in-line storage to increase the efficiency and reliability of the Scheme and replacing 100 meters with flume gates, together with replacement of metering gates on major regulating structures with 19 flume gates to provide a Total Channel Control water delivery system.

Narromine Irrigation Board of Management

The Funding Agreement for Narromine Irrigation Board of Management's Round 2 PIIOP project was executed on 28 June 2012 and is anticipated to be completed in December 2015.

Narromine received funding of $60,237,244 and will transfer water entitlements to the Commonwealth that will return 8,411 ML on average over the long-term every year to the Commonwealth to help bridge the gap in the Macquarie catchment. This project involves:

  • decommissioning 66 km of the Scheme's channels including the removal of approximately 100 redundant structures;
  • removing irrigation water supply for 19 properties;
  • lining 130 km of water delivery channels;
  • constructing 7 km of realigned channels;
  • upgrading the pump site's electrical controls and software to integrate it into the new automated water management system;
  • modernising the water supply control system and its telemetry, including installing up to 40 flume gates and secondary regulating structures;
  • replacing all Dethridge wheels with approved meters to national standards; and
  • installing a stock and domestic water supply pipeline over 180 km to supply water to up to 60 properties.

Murrumbidgee Irrigation Ltd

The Funding Agreement for Murrumbidgee Irrigation Limited (MI) Round 2 PIIOP project was executed on 10 May 2013, with the project expected to be completed by February 2018.

MI received funding of $149,622,911 and will transfer water entitlements to the Commonwealth that will return 30,871 ML on average over the long-term every year to the Commonwealth to help bridge the gap in the Murrumbidgee catchment identified in the Murray Darling Basin Plan. This project involves:

  • installation of a 455 km stock and domestic water supply system;
  • conversion of approximately 243 km of channels to an automated channel control system, including automated control on 264 regulators made up of 322 gates, upgrade/replacement of 139 channel control system structures and new meters for 105 system structures;
  • decommissioning approximately 5 km of channel;
  • replacement of approximately 62 km of channels with a gravity pipeline system; and
  • upgrades to water delivery infrastructure on approximately 207 properties.

Murray Irrigation Ltd

The Funding Agreement for Murray Irrigation Limited (MIL) Round 2 PIIOP project was executed on 20 September 2012, with the project expected to be completed by April 2017.

MIL received funding of $169,226,315 and will transfer water entitlements to the Commonwealth that will return 37,596 ML on average over the long-term every year to the Commonwealth to help bridge the gap in the Murray catchment identified in the Murray Darling Basin Plan. This project involves:

  • upgrading 2,488 meters and 1,318 regulatory channel structures;
  • upgrading the current telemetry system and ScadaConnect™ system;
  • installing a new water ordering system;
  • lining 20.1 km of water delivery channels;
  • reducing outlet numbers in 27 channel sections;
  • reconfiguring 29 channel sections;
  • decommissioning 41.3 km of irrigation channel network;
  • transferring ownership of 29.6 km of irrigation channels to irrigation customers;
  • installation of 5 large flow outlet meters;
  • decommissioning 71.6 km of irrigation delivery channels;
  • installing a 66 km stock and domestic water supply system, and
  • completing on farm works on 30 landholdings to facilitate retirement from irrigation.