Home > Governments reach $1.2 billion agricultural irrigation infrastructure renewal deal

Governments reach $1.2 billion agricultural irrigation infrastructure renewal deal

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In late October, the Victorian and Federal Governments reached a $1.2 billion deal to progressively roll out Australia's largest agricultural irrigation infrastructure renewal project to date.

Peter Walsh, Victoria’s Water, Agriculture and Food Security Minister, and his Federal counterpart Tony Burke signed-off on the second stage of the project at Tatura on October 19, 2011.

The project is a long term investment (estimated to take up to 7 years for completion) intended to both restore the health of the Murray-Darling Basin rivers, and create a first-rate irrigation system for Victoria's food producers. 

Mr Walsh says this deal will deliver 214 gigalitres in water savings and return more than double the amount of water to the environment than originally planned under Stage 1 of the Northern Victoria Irrigation Renewal Project (NVIRP).

Under the original deal, the commonwealth and the state were to split the water savings, which would have resulted in an environmental return of only 50% of the water saved.

However under the new agreement, Victoria will sell 102 gigalitres of water for environmental use to the federal government to offset the irrigators' contribution to the project, clearing a backlog of approximately 88GL in individual irrigation trades to the commonwealth that are presently blocked by the state's 4% limit on water trades out of the district.

Another crucial part of the agreement is the $48.6 million on-farm water infrastructure project set to be overseen by Victoria.

Mr Burke believes “investing in irrigation infrastructure upgrades and improving the efficiency and productivity of our irrigation industry while we also recover water for the rivers” will create healthy rivers in the Murray Darling Basin, strong communities and sustainable food production.”

“All of the water saved through this package will be achieved through improved water infrastructure efficiency. It means irrigators can increase productivity through improved technology, and there is more water to return to our precious environment.”

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