Realising the benefits of automation

9 November, 2023

The excellent progress of works to complete the automation of the Murrumbidgee Irrigation Area (MIA), was highlighted by Murrumbidgee Irrigation’s (MI) Chair, Hayden Cudmore, at the organisation’s twenty fifth Annual General Meeting (AGM) held in Leeton on Wednesday.

Mr Cudmore noted that the modernisation of the MI integrated supply system is set to deliver a host of customer benefits, setting the MIA up to be an even more attractive place to invest in irrigation-based businesses.

“These upgrades will give us a delivery system which will underpin a more flexible, timely and efficient water delivery network for many decades to come,” he said.

On a more sobering note, shareholders were also warned of the grave threat that buyback of productive irrigation water poses to the whole region, following the recent major changes proposed to the Basin Plan. 

“With these changes - all the protections for communities in the Basin Plan that limited the amount of water that could be bought back by the Government - will be removed by Christmas. This is bitterly disappointing as MI has worked cooperatively and methodically within what was a known Basin Plan pathway.”

“In the next few years there will be increasing pressure on our communities to give up productive water and increasing pressure on companies like ours to keep delivering water savings projects. As we learn and understand what is possible with water use efficiency, we will be able to continue to offer water saving projects enabling productive food and fibre industries.”

Mr Cudmore said that MI is here for the long haul.

“That means that we must keep focused on this region and what we do best – delivering water in the best way possible.  Our job is to continue to operate an efficient, modern, and agile irrigation network to support the huge and diverse production of the MIA.  If productive water leaves, we need to be on the front foot to attract it back.”

Addressing shareholders, MI’s Managing Director, Brett Jones, said that despite the uncertainty being created by government, the push toward full automation has continued at a rapid rate.

“As we expected, automation is bringing with it a step change in how we deliver water, adapt and respond to weather changes and understand how to use data to drive our business,” he explained. 

“To ensure smooth operations going forward we are continuing to invest in mapping our processes and in a continuous improvement program.”

In a changing of the guard, shareholders supported the appointment of new Independent Director, Niall Blair, and welcomed new Member Director, John Houghton, while Tracy Valenzisi is the new Chair, following Mr Cudmore’s retirement from the Board.

Shareholders also approved several changes to the constitution.

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