Of­fice strikes a deal

Eco­nomic ben­e­fits to flow from en­vi­ron­men­tal wa­ter

Southern Riverina news - - FRONT PAGE -

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 en­cour­ag­ing 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.

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