Economic benefits to flow from environmental water
Murray Irrigation and the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH) have signed a landmark deal which enables the delivery of environmental water through local irrigation infrastructure at a commercial rate.
The arrangement will see the use of Murray Irrigation infrastructure to deliver environmental water to private wetlands, ephemeral creeks and streams.
This targeted watering will allow environmental water managers to get water to key areas without negative third party impacts.
Murray Irrigation chief executive officer Michael Renehan described the agreement as a “win-win” for both parties.
‘‘This is a great outcome for Murray Irrigation and OEH,’’ he said.
‘‘The arrangement will enable local environmental objectives to be met through a commercial agreement providing the company with a return for the use of its assets.
‘‘It makes a lot of sense utilising existing infrastructure to deliver environmental water, especially considering Murray Irrigation has the ability to deliver that water strategically, using a gravity fed system.
‘‘It’s an excellent model for achieving a balance between environmental outcomes and commercial viability.’’
As part of the agreement, OEH will be charged a flat rate, plus a conveyance loading.
‘‘This deal will have absolutely no negative impact on our irrigator customers,’’ Mr Renehan said.
‘‘Environmental watering will be opportunistic and strategic. We will manage the system to ensure there are no flow share impacts on irrigators.
‘‘This is about delivering extra water through the system, and in turn, extra income for the company, reducing the pressure on our irrigation customers’ prices.’’
OEH regional operations south west director Graeme Enders said it was encourag- ing to see the government and Murray Irrigation working together to achieve environmental benefits.
‘‘This agreement forges a strong relationship between Murray Irrigation and OEH based on a long history of cooperation between OEH and Murray Irrigation landholders to deliver water to hundreds of privately owned wetlands,’’ Mr Enders said.
‘‘Through this agreement, we’re achieving environmental goals, while also contributing to the sustainability of not only the local environment, but also the financial sustainability of local communities.
‘‘While the agreement builds on an existing relationship, it opens up new opportunities for a number of future initiatives to maximise environmental outcomes with limited amounts of water.’’
The signing of this new commercial arrangement follows the recent management response to the hypoxic water event, which saw the delivery of environmental water through the Edward River and Wakool River escapes, intended to create local fish refuge zones.
The OEH and the Commonwealth En- vironmental Water Office used Murray Irrigation infrastructure to deliver environmental water throughout the local irrigation system.
‘‘This is a positive direction for both parties,’’ Mr Renehan said.
‘‘It’s great that we’re able to assist environmental bodies to achieve environmental goals.
‘‘Hopefully this agreement leads to future initiatives and an even stronger partnership between Murray Irrigation and OEH.’’
Murray Irrigation chief executive officer Michael Renehan and OEH regional operations south west director Graeme Enders.