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Continuing dry conditions have meant that the final allocation of the Macalister Irrigation District for the 2018-19 season remains at the level set on 15 December. Farmers in the MID have received 100% of their high reliability shares and 35% of their low reliability shares.

Manager Water Supply East, Gavin Prior said that steady demand from customers, no rainfall and no harvestable inflows into Glenmaggie over the last two months made it a challenging season. “This is the first season since unbundling was introduced that the weir has not spilled, said Mr Prior. “Customers have used an estimated total of 165,000 megalitres (ML) of water this season, which is 16,000 ML above the five-year average delivery of 148,000ML.” Glenmaggie Weir storage level is currently at 19,400ML or 11%.

Mr Prior said water trading in the district was also on the increase with almost 19,000 ML of water traded, double the amount traded last year. Customers have been trading unwanted water, ensuring the water was available to those who most needed it, assisting local productivity.

The season will finish on 15 May and all water trading applications need to be received before 8 May, and irrigation orders placed before 10 May for use by 15 May. Customers trading water to river diverters will have up to 24 June to finalise trade applications. The season for Thomson and Macalister River and Rainbow Creek river diverters will finish on 30 June with last order required by 26 June.

More efficient water delivery and on-farm irrigation efficiency across the modernised MID has slashed excess water discharged to drains in the system, falling from 25,000 ML in 2013-14, down to 11,072 in 2017-18.

Mr Prior said this was on-track for further reduction to around 9,000 ML in 2018-19. This has meant a significant reduction in nutrient run-off to the Gippsland Lakes. 

“Add this to the 15,000 ML that has been returned to the system for environmental flows since modernisation of the MID, plus the work we are jointly doing with WGCMA and AgVic to improve the health of the lakes and associated waterways, and you will see a truly integrated effort in promoting good agricultural and water management practices,” he said.