Responsible irrigation managmentA4 Dec05pmd by lindahy


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									                                       Murray Irrigation Limited
                                                        A.B.N. 23 067 197 933

                 Taking up the challenge ~
                     Responsible irrigation management
                     I   rrigated agriculture is the subject of intense scrutiny as the
                         competition for scarce water resources increases. A sustainable future
                     relies on responsible environmental management through more efficient
                     use of water to minimise the impacts of irrigation and maximise returns.
                     Murray Irrigation Limited is committed to helping our region integrate
                     sustainable agricultural production and a healthy environment by improving
                     the operation of water delivery and drainage systems, and working with
                     shareholders to improve their on-farm management.

                Murray Irrigation - who are we?
                Murray Irrigation Limited is the largest privately   urban water supplies to four towns in the region.
                owned irrigation supply company in Australia,        Four geographic areas make up Murray
                based in southern NSW, and one of the largest        Irrigation’s area of operations: Berriquin,
                private operations in the world.                     Denimein, Deniboota and Wakool (see map
                It is responsible for managing more than 10 per
                cent of the Murray Darling Basin’s consumptive       Together they stretch from Mulwala in the east,
                water use, an average of 1.2 million megalitres,     to Moulamein in the west, and are supplied with
                distributed to an area of 748,000 hectares.          water through 2,956 kilometres energy efficient,
                                                                     gravity fed earthen channels. Regional drainage
                The company is owned by the irrigators it
                                                                     services are provided to more than half of this
                supplies, and provides irrigation water and
                                                                     area, with 1,421 kilometres of stormwater escape
                drainage services to 2,400 properties, managed
                by 1,200 family farm businesses. It also provides

                                                                            NEW SOUTH WALES


                                                      Murray Irrigation’s area of operations
December 2005
                                     Local production                                       and refurbishment – the company’s
                                     A diverse range of agricultural products with a        infrastructure has a replacement value of $360
                                     farm gate value of more than $300 million is           million.
                                     produced each year. Our area produces:
                                                                                            Our water supply
                                            50% of Australia’s rice crop;
                                                                                            Our water comes from the Murray River at
                                            20% of NSW milk production;                     Mulwala and is good quality, generally recording
                                            75% of NSW processing tomatoes;                 salinity levels of between 40 and 50EC. The
                                            40% of NSW potatoes.                            Mulwala Canal, which begins at Lake Mulwala,
                                     Prime lamb and beef industries are also well           is our main supply channel and has a capacity
                                     established in the region, along with wool, some       of up to 10,000ML a day.
                                     horticulture, citrus and viticulture. All rely to      Flows can also be supplemented to the western
                                     some degree on irrigation. Less than a third of        part of our region through Murray River
                                     the farmland within Murray Irrigation is               anabranches, particularly the Edward River.
                                     irrigated in any one year and there are substantial
                                     areas of dryland farming among the irrigation.         Our irrigation season runs from August to May.
Rice is the major summer crop in
the Murray Valley.                   Winter cereals and legume crops play a major           Murray Irrigation shareholders have “general
                                     role in local farming systems and the region’s         security” entitlements, which provide them with
                                     economy.                                               a share of the water available for consumptive
                                                                                            use in the Murray Valley. Most of this is held in
                                     Significant amounts of local produce are               two main storages, Hume Dam and Dartmouth
                                     processed within the region. Deniliquin is home        Dam. Allocations for general security irrigators
                                     to the largest continuously operating rice milling     are largely determined by winter and spring
                                     plant in the southern hemisphere. Processing           rainfall. The government does not provide
                                     operations greatly enhance the value of our            reserves to guarantee general security allocations
                                     agricultural industries to the community, by           in the year ahead.
                                     providing many employment opportunities.
                                     The region is home to 25,000 people and                Allocations represent a percentage share of the
                                     irrigated agriculture is a vital part of the local     available water. Each month during the irrigation
                                     economy and community. It provides                     season State Government agencies review how
Quality prime lambs are raised on    employment and drives demand for service               much water is actually in the storages. They
irrigated pasture.
                                     industries.                                            consider any flows into the storages during the
                                                                                            past month and likely inflows in coming months.
                                     About the company                                      This determines the allocation. Announcements
                                                                                            are made on the 1st and the 15th of each month,
                                     Murray Irrigation Limited was formed on March
                                                                                            or the next working day, if this falls on a
                                     3, 1995, when the NSW Government privatised
                                                                                            weekend. Murray Irrigation infor ms
                                     the Murray Irrigation Area and Districts,
                                                                                            shareholders of changes to the allocation
                                     transferring ownership to irrigators. In the
                                                                                            through its Talking Water faxstream and email
                                     privatisation process land and water were
                                                                                            service. An SMS services is also available.
                                     separated, with each irrigator landowner issued
                                     share and water entitlements in the company.           When storages are low the irrigation season can
                                     Shares are held in proportion to the water             open in August with a zero allocation. Increases
                                     entitlements held by each member.                      are generally subject to rainfall in the catchment
                                                                                            and inflows into the storages as the season
                                     Murray Irrigation has 10 company directors
Our water supply comes from the                                                             progresses. In seven years out of ten the
                                     including eight directors who are irrigators, and
Murray River, at Lake Mulwala.                                                              allocation to shareholders is expected to reach
                                     two directors with skills in engineering and
                                                                                            at least 80% at the end of the season.
                                     finance. All directors are elected by our irrigator-
                                     shareholders. The company secretary and
                                     general manager answer directly to the board           Trading water
                                     of directors.                                          Murray Irrigation shareholders are actively
                                     Our operations are divided into eight sections:        involved in water trade. The company operates
                                     water distribution, works; engineering services;       the largest water exchange in Australia for the
                                     environmental services; financial services, policy     sale and purchase of water on the annual market.
                                     development and liaison, corporate services and        The exchange was first established in 1998 and
                                     MILCast irrigation products.                           has developed to offer 24hour access, seven days
                                                                                            a week during the irrigation season. It offers
                                     The company has an annual turnover of up to
                                                                                            almost instant transactions, with water
                                     $40 million and a permanent staff of 125. Water
                                                                                            transferred onto farms within Murray Irrigation
The Edward River Escape diverts      prices are struck annually and are partly fixed
flows from the Mulwala Canal into                                                           the same day. There are no fees on transactions
                                     and partly variable, based on the amount of
the Edward River, near Deniliquin.                                                          and the exchange can be used by buyers and
                                     water used. The water price includes a levy to
                                                                                            sellers within Murray Irrigation, and from areas
                                     underpin company operations during drought,
                                                                                            outside our operations.
                                     and to set aside reserves for asset replacement
The exchange trades between 60,000 and                 Protection and enhancement of remnant
80,000ML a year and can be accessed from               vegetation;
anywhere that has a touch telephone service.           Monitoring and review;
Information is also available live, through the        Controlling water seepage from supply
internet, with transactions listed as soon as they     channels.
have been processed.
                                                     In 2003 the plans won the Australian Water
Water is also traded permanently between             Association’s National Environmental Merit
Murray Irrigation shareholders, and with other       Award. The plans’ major successes to date
farmers in the NSW Murray Valley, although           include a significant fall in watertables across
trade, to date, has been limited.                    most of the region as a result of improved land
                                                     and water use, in combination with a series of
Operating licences                                   dry years. Murray Irrigation conducts biannual
Murray Irrigation Limited is licensed to operate     monitoring of 1500 piezometers, which reveals
by the NSW Government. It has a Water                that area of land affected by watertables within
Management Works Licence which allows us to          two metres of the surface has from 110,636ha
divert water from the river system and deliver it    in 1997 to 3,800ha in August 2005.                 Stormwater escape channels help
to our shareholders. We also have an                                                                    prevent waterlogging following
                                                                                                        heavy rainfall.
Environment Protection Licence which allows          Since 1995, on farm works have included:
us to discharge water from our network of              Completion of 983 whole farm plans;
stormwater escape channels.                            Construction of more 687 irrigation reuse
The company is also subject to water sharing           systems and 501 farm storages;
arrangements implemented by the State                  Formal irrigation training program undertaken
Government, and the Murray Darling Basin               by families managing a total of 2,210
Commission.                                            landholdings;
                                                       2587 hectares set aside for revegetation and
Natural Resource Management                            regeneration.
Recognising that changing land use in the region,    As part of our monitoring program, the
including irrigation, has resulted in some           company carries out its own water testing. Our
significant environmental issues, the region’s       laboratory, based in Finley, has achieved          Land forming and storages help to
community has developed a 30 year                    international accreditation (ISO/IEC               improve irrigation efficiency.
management plan to ensure a sustainable              17025:1999) through the National Association
approach to productive land use. Rising              of Testing Authorities.
watertables and salinisation emerged as major
threats to the region’s productivity in the 1970s.   Wakool Tullakool Subsurface
The Murray Land and Water Management Plans,          Drainage Scheme
including four local area plans, were developed
to address these and other issues, to protect the    Murray Irrigation owns and operates the largest
environmental, social and economic values of         salt interception scheme in the Murray-Darling
the region.                                          Basin, the Wakool Tullakool Sub Surface
                                                     Drainage Scheme. It protects more than
The $498 million investment proposed over 30         50,000ha of land in the Wakool district from
years is expected to be shared between the           high watertables and salinity. Between 150,000
regional community (76%) and State and Federal       and 180,000 tonnes of salt is extracted through
Governments (24%). Implementation began in           the evaporation basins each year, preventing its   Direct seeding is being used by
1995. Ten years into the plans the community         movement into the nearby Murray River.             landholders and the company to
                                                                                                        re-establish native vegetation in the
has already invested $351 million, supplemented      Groundwater in this region has recorded salinity   region.
by $67.5 million in government support. Murray       levels of up to 150,000EC, with an average of
Irrigation is responsible for implementing the       33,652EC.
plans, which form part of the company’s
operating licence.                                   Murray Irrigation is currently investigating
                                                     commercial activities for the scheme including
Plans strategies include:                            the harvesting of salt and other by-products,
  Education leading to improved farming              and the potential for aquaculture using saline
  practices;                                         groundwater.
  Implementing best management practices;
  Whole farm planning;                               Technical Initiatives
  Construction of irrigation recycling               The engineering section manages Murray
  systems;                                           Irrigation’s asset refurbishment program           Our water testing procedures meet
  Stormwater management to reduce                    including design and construction. Each year       international standards.
  waterlogging;                                      the company spends approximately $10 million
  Local research and development to improve          on constr uction and refurbishment of
  knowledge and management practices;                infrastructure.
                                    Efficient in-house design and the roll out of            power 1500 homes. It is the first hydro scheme
                                    remote operation and mechanisation technology            built on an irrigation supply system in Australia,
                                    has helped to improve operational efficiencies           and is expected to prevent production of up to
                                    as well as staff safety. Quality control and             11,000 tonnes of greenhouse gases a year. This
                                    workplace safety is major considerations for the         project has been supported through the NSW
                                    company which has recently achieved                      Sustainable Energy Development Authority, and
                                    international accreditation for both Quality             the Australian Greenhouse Office.
                                    Assurance and Occupation Health and Safety.
                                    More than $2 million a year is being spent to
                                    mechanise, monitor and remotely control                  Murray Irrigation operates MILCast as a wholly
                                    regulators along the supply system to improve            owned subsidiary. Based in Finley, it was
                                    efficiency. Radio monitoring of the supply and           originally established in 1981 to supply concrete
                                    stormwater drainage channels has increased               structures for the local irrigation system. The
                                    response times to changes in demand for water            business has a growing cliental, providing quality
                                    and to increased flows following storms. As              concrete structures to the corporate and
                                    the telemetry system is progressively installed it       agricultural sectors in the Murray and
Almost 9,000 tonnes of salt was     will be used for remote operation and                    neighbouring irrigation areas, including
harvested from evaporation basins   monitoring of farm water supply points to                customised work for organisations such as
in 2005.
                                    achieve further water savings and reduce water           Snowy Hydro Ltd.
                                    losses from the irrigation system.
                                    Mapping systems                                          In 2004 Murray Irrigation entered a joint venture
                                    Murray Irrigation has built a complex                    with Automated Water Management Australia
                                    Geographic Information System (GIS) that                 and has a 50% share in the newly formed
                                    covers our entire area of operation. The GIS             company AWMA Pty Ltd, based in Cohuna. This
                                    provides the company and shareholders with a             business designs, manufactures and installs
                                    wide range of information which can be used              automated water management infrastructure to
                                    to more accurately locate company assets and             farms, irrigation supply companies and urban
                                    property boundaries. It can be used to help plan         water authorities. More information is available
Maintenance work on channels is     infrastructure management, measure rice areas            from the website
undertaken continuously.            and to map land and water use. A new Digital
                                    Elevation Model (DEM) has also been added                Business development unit
                                    to the company’s planning systems in the past            Murray Irrigation has recently established a
                                    year. Aircraft mounted laser technology has              business development unit to consider
                                    been used to measure and map ground levels at            investment in other complementary businesses,
                                    one metre intervals across the region. The DEM           and to support new water related and agricultural
                                    is expected to help predict water movement as            industries in the region. Working in conjunction
                                    well as improving farm planning and the design           with local councils, NSW State and Regional
                                    of stormwater systems.                                   Development and other stakeholders, a range of
                                                                                             initiatives have been launched. These include:
                                    Hydro power                                                   a dairy development strategy,
                                    The company has entered a partnership with                    implementation of a regional horticultural
                                    Pacific Hydro for a green power generator on                  plan,
                                    the Mulwala Canal, at The Drop regulator                      financial assistance to appraise new
Solar power is used widely in our
remote monitoring network.          between Berrigan and Finley. This                             agricultural investments,
                                    complementary venture is expected to provide
                                                                                                  introducing new processing companies to
                                    business and environmental benefits for the
                                                                                                  the region,
                                    company and the region.
                                                                                                  a commitment by MIL to provide new
                                    Much of the plant is underground – up to 17                   water instruments necessary to support
                                    metres below ground level. It has 2,200 cubic                 new investments,
                                    metres of concrete and 350 tonnes of steel
                                                                                                  improving access to regional information.
                                    reinforcing the 75 metre long structure. With
                                    flows of up to 6,000ML a day in the Mulwala              Project manager for the business development
                                    Canal the plant can produce around 2.5                   unit is Marty Sammon. He can be contacted
                                    megawatts of green power which is sold into              on mobile 0427 222 166, or email
                                    the national electricity grid. This is enough to

The hydro power plant on the
Mulwala Canal under construction.

                                                              Murray Irrigation Limited
                                               Registered office: 443 Charlotte St, PO Box 528 Deniliquin NSW Australia 2710
                                                                Telephone 61 35881 9300, fax 61 3 5881 9317

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