Department of the Environment

Archived media releases and speeches

The Hon Tony Burke MP

Minister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities

New infrastructure projects for NSW irrigation districts

Media release
12 December 2011

Four new irrigation efficiency projects in NSW funded by the Gillard Government are set to provide an average of over 75 gigalitres to help bridge the gap to sustainable diversion limits under the final Murray Darling Basin Plan.

Water Minister Tony Burke today announced funding of up to $382.5 million for projects in four irrigation districts in NSW to modernise their systems under the second round of the NSW Private Irrigation Infrastructure Operators Program.

The funding is part of the Gillard Government’sSustainable Rural Water Use and Infrastructure Program.

"The Gillard Government is determined that Murray Darling Basin reform delivers healthy, working rivers, strong communities and productive, competitive food production," Mr Burke said.

"The water savings, arising from irrigation system infrastructure improvements and reconfiguration, will make a significant contribution to 'bridging the gap' to the sustainable diversion limit proposed by the draft Murray Darling Basin Plan. 

"A share of water savings from the projects will also go to irrigators for productive use.

"In consultation with communities over the last year, there has been frustration about delays in getting infrastructure funding out the door. Today’s announcement combined with the Northern Victorian Irrigation Renewal Project and on-farm irrigation upgrades shows a firm commitment to making infrastructure improvements available to communities as part of the reform.

"Our investment in irrigation infrastructure demonstrates our commitment to work with communities through Murray Darling Basin reform."

The successful applicants, who supply water to irrigated properties in the Murrumbidgee, Murray and Macquarie catchments, will receive funding to carry out the projects which they have designed to improve the water efficiency of their irrigation systems.

Funding of up to $181,880,947 has been approved for Murray Irrigation Limited, up to $164,585,292 for Murrumbidgee Irrigation Limited, up to $66,260,968 for Narromine Irrigation Board of Management, and up to $8,085,000 for Coleambally Irrigation Cooperative Limited.

"The infrastructure projects will improve agricultural productivity in these important irrigation districts while using less water, with flow on benefits for Murray Darling Basin communities, including local employment," Mr Burke said. 

"The approved projects include a range of works including reducing leaks in irrigation channels that deliver water to farms, removing some inefficient irrigation channels, reducing the footprint of some irrigation schemes, and installing stock and domestic pipelines to replace inefficient irrigation channels.

"This work will improve certainty of flows to the schemes and to farmers, and the increased efficiency of water delivery will help improve overall productivity."

The draft Murray Darling Basin Plan released last month recommends a water use reduction target of 2750 gigalitres to be returned to the basin to restore river health with a transition period through till 2019.

The Draft reported that 1068 gigalitres of water had been already secured which would offset the recovery target of 2750 gigalitres. Once the 214 gigalitres from the Northern Victorian Irrigation Renewal Project and this 75 gigalitres are added, total water recovery will reach 1357 gigalitres, 18 giglatires off half way towards the Sustainable Diversion Limits proposed in the draft.

The draft basin plan is going through 20 weeks of further community consultation. A final basin plan will be presented to the Parliament in 2012.