Boom as water set to flow

A Massive water project designed to increase productivity for a vast area of the Midlands is a huge step closer.

The North Midland Irrigation Scheme – which has almost doubled its initial capacity due to landowner demand – has successfully had its business case approved.

Now construction work is on track to start by September next year, with water on target to flow by October 2024.

NORTHERN Midlands farmers will soon have irrigation water flowing allowing diversification into new enterprises, high-value crops and employing more workers after approval of the business case for the $146.88 million Tranche Three project.

Up to 25,500 megalitres of high-surety irrigation water is set to flow in the Northern Midlands Irrigation Scheme, with the project estimated to provide up to 90 full-time jobs during construction and up to 222 direct and indirect full-time employment positions once fully operational.

The private on-farm investment by farmers is estimated at about $81.98 million, including the cost of water entitlements.

The vital milestone for the scheme was the Tasmanian Government’s approval of the business case for the project.

This will enable Tasmanian Irrigation to progress detailed design, referrals, and approvals in a bid to start construction about September 2022, with first water forecast to flow in October 2024.

Primary Industries and Water Minister Guy Barnett said the business case would now be considered by the National Water Grid Authority, with the scheme designed to allow farmers to expand the area planted to high-value crops, increase rotations, boost yields, and diversify into new enterprises, such as wine grapes, leafy-green vegetables and berries.

Irrigation schemes and the Greater Meander Valley Irrigation Scheme, Tasmania is the envy of the nation, and we are investing more than $30 million in the 2021-22 Tasmanian Budget to continue delivering our nation-leading irrigation projects,” Mr Barnett said.

Tasmanian Liberal Senator Claire Chandler said agriculture is the cornerstone of the Tasmanian economy, which is why the Commonwealth and Tasmanian Governments are jointly investing $185 million to deliver irrigation infrastructure.

“We’ll continue to work closely with the Tasmanian Government to deliver this and other irrigation projects around the state,” she said.

Tasmanian Irrigation chief executive officer Andrew Kneebone said the company had redesigned the project after irrigator demand increased from 13,000ML to 25,500ML during the water sales process.

“This is a fantastic problem to encounter,” Mr Kneebone said.
“Having to effectively double the capacity of the scheme to meet landowner demand once again demonstrates the high value that farmers place on reliable irrigation water.
“Tasmanian Irrigation is delighted to hear that farmers in this region south of Cressy, including Macquarie, Barton, Isis, Conara, Campbell Town and Ross, are finalising plans to invest in additional pivots and expand the area planted to high-value crops, diversify into new enterprises and employ more workers.”

The Northern Midlands Irrigation Scheme design incorporates three pump stations and 157.3km of pipeline to deliver water via gravity feed out of the Poatina Tailrace and a short offtake channel to a buffer dam.

The 25,500ML of summer irrigation water is available at a peak flow rate of 170ML/day. Mr Kneebone said the scheme had the potential to deliver a similar volume of winter supply.

“Tasmanian Irrigation thanks the State Government for approving the business case for this important Tranche Three project, as well as providing $40.51 million, and the Australian Government for its $69.65 million contribution.”

TI is advancing Tranche Three irrigation projects, including Don, Tamar and the Sassafras Wesley Vale Augmentation, progress planning on an additional five projects – the South East Integration Project, Southern Midlands, Gretna, Detention and Flowerdale.

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