Marthaguy, New South Wales
Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities, 2011
- Delivering a healthy working Basin for Australia: Water for the Future Local Story - Marthaguy, New South Wales (PDF - 748 KB)
Program: Irrigation Modernisation Planning Assistance and
Private Irrigation Infrastructure Operators Program NSW
Funding recipient: Marthaguy Irrigation Scheme
Water for the Future Grant: $9,407,190 (PIIOP) and $80,000 (IMPA)
The first New South Wales irrigation infrastructure modernisation project funded by Water for the Future is complete.
Marthaguy Irrigation Scheme Pty Ltd received $9.4 million under the Private Irrigation Infrastructure Operators Program (PIIOP) to rationalise its channel system and modernise its water management infrastructure.
Scraper used to refill the decommissioned channel on the Marthaguy Irrigation Scheme
Photo: Courtesy of Tom McKeon, McKeon Associates, Project Operations Manager
Its Greening the Marthaguy project, the culmination of five years work, will provide 4,928 megalitres of water entitlements to the Commonwealth through water savings, which will be used to benefit Murray–Darling Basin rivers and wetlands.
"The project has been great for the members with benefits for all," said Glen Whittaker who retired about 800 hectares of developed land and more than 3,000 megalitres of storage capacity in the decommissioned section of the Scheme to dry-land cropping and grazing.
Marthaguy Irrigation Scheme is located 33km north of Warren and pumps water from the Macquarie River 4km above the Marebone Weir pool. The Scheme supplies general security water and stock and domestic water to 19 members, 12 of whom irrigate about 6,200 hectares of land on 18 properties.
As part of the project a new enclosed 60km pipeline was installed and 16km of open earth channels no longer needed were decommissioned and the channels filled in.
Remote monitoring systems were also installed to manage and control water use for both irrigation and stock and domestic purposes.
The rationalised earth channel and new stock and domestic pipeline has dramatically reduced previous problems with seepage, effectively drought-proofed a lot of properties, and now protects stock watering.
"We have a rejuvenated confidence in our irrigation enterprise due to the ability of the Scheme to operate in a wide range of water availability scenarios," said Bealcott Partnership owner, Mark Beach.
Inspecting pipes removed from a decommissioned section of the redundant Marthaguy Irrigation Scheme channel.
"With the increased efficiency and improved reliability of the new Scheme, we are now looking at ways to maintain a regular program and workforce."
Problems arose in the past from power blackouts and the Scheme did not know pumps had stopped until the next morning when the channel was empty. It could then take two days to refill, costing even more water and jeopardising crop production.
Now with an automated alert system in place the scheme can have pumps back online within 30 minutes.
Completion of Greening the Marthaguy has improved the long term viability of the Scheme and the district.
"The new stock and domestic supply is the best thing that has happened for our farming enterprise," said Michael and Margaret O'Brien who operate a mixed farming and grazing enterprise at the northern extremity of the Scheme.
"Under the new arrangement we have permanent access to a good water supply, both quality and quantity. This provides a sustainable future for our stock operations and having permanently available water is a dream."
Reconfiguring and concentrating water delivery to an efficient purpose built channel network has meant that the Scheme is operable under almost all allocation years.
Long term, this will allow members to irrigate crops in low allocation years to maintain farm productivity and improve resource utilisation.
In years of high water availability, the Scheme will operate more efficiently allowing members to transfer carry-over-water forward to secure water supplies for future years, which will provide a more stable and reliable enterprise mix to farming businesses.
Inspecting the coffer dam at the Merenele Weir in preparation for decommissioning the scheme's offtake from the weir