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We have undertaken scoping of major infrastructure projects to renew ageing water delivery infrastructure and generate water savings to reduce the impacts of the Murray-Darling Basin Plan. These projects were identified in the development of a Modernisation Plan that we prepared in 2009 with funding from the Australian Government.
The Modernisation Plan considered a range of options available to us to respond to the challenges facing the irrigation industry, one of which included increasing the efficiency of the irrigation distribution system to drive regional development, investment and growth, that included the following projects:
MIARA Lake Wyangan Modernisation Project:
On 19 June 2009, the then Federal Minister for Climate Change and Water, Senator the Hon. Penny Wong announced a $650 million Private Irrigation Infrastructure Operators Program for NSW (PIIOP) as part of the Australian Government's Sustainable Rural Water Use and Infrastructure Program. The program was designed to fund irrigation system modernisation projects, providing opportunities for both off-farm and on-farm water efficiency upgrades. Overall, the projects are expected to return 112 GL every year (long term average yield) to the Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder to help bridge the gap between current use and the new Sustainable Diversion Limits identified in the Murray-Darling Basin Plan.
We submitted an application for funding under Round 1 of PIIOP in November 2009. In April 2010, the Australian Government announced that we would receive $50 million in funding under this round to upgrade ageing water delivery infrastructure in Lake Wyangan in exchange for water savings.
This project will deliver a modern delivery system that will substantially increase the maximum system capacity for Lake Wyangan customers. The project will replace 15.8 kilometres of concrete lining and 13.8 kilometres of open channels with gravity pipelines to reduce water losses and improve system delivery efficiencies. Manually operated regulators will be replaced with automated regulating structures and gates to deliver a consistent flow rate. Dethridge Wheels will be replaced with more accurate electronic flow meters.
Construction commenced in May 2013. As at 30 August 2013, a total of 9.8 kilometres of channel relining has been completed and 3.6 kilometres of gravity pipelines have been installed. This project was completed in November 2014.
In December 2011, the Australian Government announced $149.6 million in funding for Murrumbidgee Irrigation Limited (MI) under the Round 2 of the Private Irrigation Infrastructure Operators Program in New South Wales (PIIOP) to upgrade both off-farm and on-farm infrastructure in exchange for water savings. This funding will support integrated water infrastructure modernisation projects in Hanwood, Bilbul, Leeton, Yenda and the Wah Wah stock and domestic district. These projects will be progressively developed and delivered over the next 5 years.
Due to income and capital gains tax concerns, MI has only recently accepted this funding following the amendments to tax legislation passed by the Parliament in June 2013. These amendments were originally announced by the Australian Government in February 2011.