Just add water – Water’s growing promise

FARMERS in the Tamar Valley can now apply for water entitlements for one of Tasmania’s largest irrigation projects.

Water Sales for the $290 million Tamar infrastructure project will be open for the next six weeks, enabling Tasmanian Irrigation to determine the level of demand from landowners.

The scheme will deliver 24,500 megalitres incorporating 240km of pipeline and five pump stations.

If water sales hit the pre-determined threshold, Tasmanian Irrigation will then develop a business plan to be submitted to the State and Federal Governments to secure funding for the scheme.

The project will then progress to detailed design, permits and approvals before construction can start in late 2023.

Tasmanian Irrigation chief executive officer Andrew Kneebone said there had been a growing level of excitement and anticipation about the Tamar Irrigation Scheme, as landowners realised the economic benefits of high-surety irrigation water being delivered to their properties.

“Tasmanian Irrigation has seen record levels of interest for many of the Tranche Three irrigation projects now under development, particularly in the Tamar,” Mr Kneebone said.
“We have farmers looking to double the area planted to berries, diversify into high-value fruit and vegetable crops, increase dairy production and boost stocking rates on the basis of reliable irrigation water.
“It is estimated that the Tamar Irrigation Scheme, once completed in 2025/26, will generate approximately 411 full-time jobs and 205 indirect jobs, and provide an economic benefit to Tasmania of $589 million.”

The Tamar Irrigation Scheme Preferred Option Design would service an area of 89,000 hectares spanning Westwood, Legana, Beaconsfield, Rowella, Hillwood, Pipers River, Lilydale and Pipers Brook.

The Tamar Preferred Option Design is based on delivering a peak flow rate of 137 megalitres per day for a 180- day delivery period over summer, with a water entitlement price proposed at $2,450 per megalitre.

Winter water will also be available at $1,450 per megalitre.

Water will be sourced from the Trevallyn Dam, which is filled via the South Esk River catchment, one of Tasmania’s largest catchment areas.

Tasmanian Farmers and Graziers Association acting CEO Marcus McShane said irrigation projects around the state had been a “gamechanger” for farmers.

“It’s reinvigorated communities, it’s building drought resilience,” Mr McShane said.
“You don’t need a lot of water to make a big difference and give you options.
“You can handle the dry periods, you can manage it, you can value add stock, that sort of thing. It gives you choices and it creates cash flow.”

The State and Federal Governments have committed to the development of new irrigation schemes in the state, while landowners have also made financial contributions as part of the unique public/private funding model.

“This Government and landowner partnership continues to deliver game-changing infrastructure and opportunities for Tasmanian farmers, ensuring we can help meet the Tasmanian Government’s target of increasing the farmgate value of the State’s agricultural sector to $10 billion by 2050,” Mr Kneebone said.