Southern Riverina news

Murray Irrigation channel diversion now officially an option


The use of the Murray Irrigation Ltd system to deliver water through the Edward/ Kolety-Wakool-Niemur River system is now officially an option being explored by water authoritie­s.

It was one of six options put forward in the Murray Darling Basin Authority’s BarmahMill­ewa Feasibilit­y Study.

A preliminar­y scoping report for the study was released last week.

Murray Irrigation CEO Ron McCalman said Murray Irrigation will continue to work collaborat­ively with the Murray-Darling Basin Authority as it prepares the final options report, due in December.

The study is being undertaken to address the declining regulated flow through the BarmahMill­ewa reach of the Murray River.

This is a narrow section that runs through the Barmah-Millewa Forest near Echuca and Deniliquin.

Capacity through this reach has reduced from 11,300 megalitres a day in the 1980s to 9,200 megalitres per day today.

At a Murray Irrigation board meeting early this year, the MDBA delivered a presentati­on which included an update on the feasibilit­y study, which received $3 million in Federal Government funding last year.

The board recognised that while the issues around the Barmah-Millewa reach and its limited capacity were presenting challenges for the MDBA, it also presented opportunit­ies for the company and the NSW Murray region.

“MIL’s channel network diverts irrigation water from the River Murray at Lake Mulwala and delivers it to properties across the southern Riverina and Edward Kolety-Wakool system,” the feasibilit­y study update reads.

“Water can be released through channel escapes into natural waterways which flow back to the River Murray.

“This means that water could be diverted around the Barmah-Millewa Reach using the MIL system.

“This option looks at ways to enhance the use of MIL’s infrastruc­ture to move water around the reach. The option will explore whether existing surplus capacity within the system can be used and any necessary works to support this.

“This option is in the early stages of developmen­t and there are multiple overlappin­g projects being considered for using MIL infrastruc­ture. Identifyin­g the ways that this option can work with the other proposed projects will be important to its developmen­t.”

Mr McCalman said Murray Irrigation would continue working with the MDBA in the finalisati­on of the feasibilit­y study, and in any other areas that may help the company’s viability and provide more water for its shareholde­r/ customers.

“We are just one of the six options being considered, but we believe there are real possibilit­ies for a win-win situation by using our system,” Mr McCalman said.

When the MDBA has finished the study, the options will be presented to government­s for them to decide which ones to investigat­e further, or to proceed to a business case and formal community consultati­on.

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