Select Page

MID Modernisation


Background

The Macalister Irrigation District is the largest irrigation district in southern Victoria. The district has secure water supplies supplemented by good rainfall, productive soils, a strong dairy sector and developing vegetable and cropping industries. Estimates put annual economic contribution in excess of $500M per year.

Further investment was needed to enable customers to implement best-practice water use and improve farm productivity.

Southern Rural Water is modernising the district through a combination of pipelining, channel automation and regulator upgrades. More than $92M in works are being completed during Phase 1A ($32M) and Phase 1B ($60M). Combined, these two phases will improve availability and service for customers and provide 22,000 Megalitres (22 Gigalitres) of water savings to be made available for irrigation use within the district.

The overall MID2030 modernisation program has been broken into Phases to focus on work which brings the greatest value in water savings and service improvements. The first two Phases together prioritised:

  •  further automation of channel regulating structures in three zones
  •  constructing a balancing storage
  •  some outlet modernisation and rationalization
  • pipelining and channel automation of one full supply zone

Benefits of the projects include:

  •  modernised systems for three supply zones
  •  reduced times between orders and delivery in modernised areas along with less shifting of orders
  •  on-farm benefits for modernised outlets including more consistent flow rates and higher flow rates
  • more efficient irrigation practices reduce farm run-off and drain outfall, which reduces nutrients heading down to the Gippsland Lakes
  • better asset conditions, investing in the district and supporting future food production
  • improved safety by removing manual handling of regulator drop bars

Phase 1B – Southern Tinamba Modernisation

The $60M MID 2030 Modernisation Phase 1B program involves an upgrade of the Southern Tinamba Supply Zone, comprising replacement of the upper channel system with a gravity pipeline, coupled with the automation and modernisation of the lower channel system. Approximately 39km of pipeline will be installed and 32km of existing channels will be upgraded and automated.  The detailed pipeline design work was done as part of the Phase 1A project.

The project is jointly funded with $20M invested by MID customers, $20M by the Victorian Government and $20M by the Federal Government.

When complete, Phase 1B will:

  • save an additional 9,700 ML of water to go back into the Macalister Irrigation District
  • enable more efficient on-farm irrigation, which further improves productivity across the district
  • reduce outfall to the drain systems, which will also mean fewer nutrients entering waterways and the Gippsland Lakes.

Tenders for materials and works have been called (Feb-Mar 2017) for Stage 1 to begin May 2017.  The Phase 1B pipeline program will be delivered in four stages. Stage 1 will be delivered May-Aug 2017, Stage 2 May-Aug 2018, Stage 3 May-Aug 2019 and Stage 4 May-Aug 2020. Customers within the areas of Stages 2-4 will be contacted 12 months before each stage works commence.

170427_Tinamba_KBR_Map_LARGE_NODATES_a4

Frequently asked questions


What is the project?

The $60M project is next phase of the modernisation of the MID that commenced in 2004. This section covers the Southern-Tinamba supply zone, which includes Tinamba, Mewburn Park and Riverslea. This area has some of the poorest channels and highest water losses in the district.

The project replaces the old channels in the upper part of the area with pipes and automates the channels in the lower end. The channels automated typically are on heavier soils, have less water loss and are in better condition.

In the upper section, the works include a new pipeline and outlets plus some on-farm connection works. The route selection will aim to provide a service to increase farm productivity and to minimise capital and future costs. The pipe route selection process will consider the cost of the pipeline plus the cost of any on-farm connection works. The lower section will involve replacing the regulators with FlumeGates to automate the existing channel system.


Who is funding the project?
The project is funded by SRW customers, the State and the Commonwealth Governments – each contributing $20M. The Governments are funding the project to increase regional production and jobs. As part of this commitment, all the water savings go back to customers to increase production.

When does the project start and when will it finish?
The project works will start in the 2017 winter. Under the funding agreement we will complete the project within four years.

When will consultations and construction happen?

Stage 1 – Pipeline offtake & upper section of pipeline (Tinamba West area)
Consultation – under way
Construction – proposed start, May 2017

Stage 2 – Central section of pipeline (Tinamba area)
Consultation – proposed start, May 2017
Construction – proposed start, May 2018

Stage 3 – Channel automation (Riverslea area)
Consultation – proposed start, Feb 2018
Construction – proposed star, May 2019

Stage 4 – Channel automation (Riverslea area)
Consultation – proposed start, July 2017
Construction – proposed star, May 2020


What is proposed for the outlets on channel to be automated?
Approximately 15 outlets will be upgraded on the sections of channel to be automated to provide data required for the channel automation downstream of the pipeline to function correctly. Reconfiguration opportunities may be considered where it provides an economic benefit for the overall project.

What type of pipeline outlet will I get?
There will be range of sizes and flow rates to suit the area irrigated. The principles to be used for sizing are currently being finalised. Smaller outlets will be manually operated whilst larger outlets will be fully automated. All irrigation outlets will be able to be remotely read. We are still looking at the options for directly connected and pumped outlets (refer relevant FAQ below)

How many outlets will supply my farm?
Outlet treatment principles are being finalised to ensure a consistent approach to all customers in the project area. The number of outlets will depend on the location of the pipe and the on-farm irrigation layout. The project team will discuss the options with each customer with the premise that customers can continue to irrigate as per current practice.

Can I have my pump directly connected to the pipeline?
Possibly, this option may be possible and the technical requirements are being assessed. It will require different equipment and customers would be expected to protect their pumps against running dry. This option will be discussed during the individual customer consultation process.

Will the pressure in the pipeline drive a pivot or lateral irrigator?
During the original consultation with customers, a pressurised pipeline was considered but not supported by customers.  The gravity pipeline will provide the opportunity for some, however this will depend on the outlet location and total demand in the pipe. During periods of peak demand the pressure will be low and will vary too much (due to outlets starting and stopping) to provide reliable direct supply to a pivot or lateral irrigator.

After the pipeline has been installed can I request a new outlet or domestic & stock connection or change from gravity to direct connection?
Yes, new connections can be requested and installed after construction of the pipeline where spare capacity is assessed as being available. The same would apply to a change from gravity to direct connection or vice versa. However, the changes would be at the customer’s cost and can only be installed during the winter shutdown period.

What is the proposed pipeline alignment?

We plan to optimize the pipeline route by following the existing channel alignment in some areas and going through new areas to balance operational efficiency, customer service and cost. We will discuss fine-tuning the alignment along with the location of new infrastructure (e.g. outlets) during the customer consultation process. During the pipeline design project, we tested many alignments and combinations and believe we have arrived at the most efficient and economical option.

 


What is the capacity of the pipeline?

The proposed design capacity of the pipeline is as shown at various points in the table below:

  • Main Southern Channel Offtake – 250ML/day
  • River Channel & Mewburn Park system – 65ML/day
  • TN4 Channel system – 90ML/day
  • TN2/4 Channel system – 65ML/day

What is the length of the pipeline?
The exact length of the pipeline will depend on the remaining customer consultations. The approximate length at this stage is 38kms.

What is the pipeline material?

Stage1 of the pipeline is being constructed in GRP (Glassfibre Reinforced Plastic). For the remaining stages, SRW is reviewing the material of the pipeline.

Utilising industry best practice and cost, the options being considered are:

  • GRP (Glassfibre Reinforced Plastic)
  • HDPE (High Density Polyethylene)
  • MSCL (Mild Steel Cement Lined)
  • PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride)

How will outlets and valves be protected from stock and farming operations?
All pipeline infrastructure will be installed with fit-for-purpose protection similar to current, modernised infrastructure. For example, stock protection may include a post and rail enclosure with an access gate.

Why did we decide to automate the bottom section of this area?

There are a number of reasons for this:

  • The soil type is less permeable so there are less potential water savings
  • The channel system in stage 3 is newer and in better condition than the rest of the system, so only minor refurbishment is required.
  • It reduced the cost of the project from approximately $80 million to $60 million making the project more affordable for customers and government to invest in,

It may be possible to pipe the lower section in the future should there be customer demand.


How will construction impact my business operations and how will any delays be managed?
The project team will discuss the construction process and prepare a site plan for the contractor that includes any agreed issues – such as access routes for construction gear.  The installation contractors will consult with customers on timing and if they have any new requirements such as places to store pipes. The contractors managing construction will ensure access to water is available when required after the irrigation season commences.

What will happen to the existing channel and structures once the pipeline is installed (if they are not removed as part of the installation)?
This will be determined through customer consultation. Customers may be able to retain and use these assets. It should be noted, however, that at least one channel bank must remain so that the flood pattern remains the same, as per the West Gippsland Catchment Management Authority’s guidelines.

Who will be responsible for private assets which are damaged by construction?

All due care will be taken to avoid any damage to private assets, however this is sometimes unavoidable. Where any damage occurs, the construction contractor will be required to reinstate any damage caused to pre-existing condition as a minimum. Any private assets on our pipeline alignment will be identified and discussed during customer consultation. Private Works Licensing will be assessed on an as needs basis.


Once the pipeline is installed are there any restrictions on what I can do on the land above it?

Yes, as per normal easement arrangements, you cannot excavate (including land forming which removes soil cover) or build structures over the pipeline. Normal grazing and cultivation practices (except deep ripping) on the pipeline alignment are acceptable. The pipeline will be designed to withstand normal machinery loads and existing designated access points will be maintained (e.g. milk tanker).


Will the installation of the pipeline affect the existing drainage system?

No, the current drainage network will remain unchanged.


How have future needs been considered in the design of the pipeline?

Yes, the pipeline capacity is based on current land and water use practices with some allowance for increased productivity, climate change and an improved delivery efficiency on our current channel system.


Will the project reduce the time of my water order notice?

Yes, the majority of the time, the new system will allow more flexible ordering and less lead time. Similar to other areas with channel automation, customers will only have to provide one day’s notice and be able to confirm the order when it is placed.


How will SRW manage customer scheduling and sharing of capacity during peak periods?

Scheduling and sharing of capacity will be managed by the automated system and planners in conjunction with customer needs.


Will spill water be available?

Yes, spill water will be available through the pipeline and automated channel as per current arrangements.


What will happen to outfalls?

Reduction of outfalls is one of the objectives of modernising systems and as such, the volume of outfall water entering our drainage systems will reduce. Outfall points on the pipeline will be removed and outfall points on automated channel will mostly remain.


Have SRW considered the environmental impacts? This includes wildlife access, native tree removal, cultural heritage impacts, etc.

Yes, this has been part of our design planning, which has considered an optimised pipeline alignment to minimise the impacts on the environment. We will discuss potential issues with individual land owners and Wellington Shire as part of our consultation process.


What is the estimated water savings from the project?

The estimated water savings is approximately 9,700ML per annum.


When and how will the water savings be available to customers?

Water savings are expected be available to the customers around 12 months after the project completion, after they have been reviewed and validated by an independent auditor. The method of providing the water savings to customers – e.g via a distribution, auction, shelf price will be decided after further customer consultation.

 


What is the impact of the pipeline on future flooding in the area?

The pipeline will have minimal impact on flooding as the project has been developed under the guidelines of the West Gippsland Catchment Management Authority, that at least one channel bank must remain so that the flooding behavior remains the same as the existing channel system.


Completed projects

Phase 1A

In May 2013, the Victorian Government announced it was providing $16M towards the modernisation of the MID, with a co-contribution of $16M from MID customers for the $32M Phase 1A project. The works, which began in 2013 and will be completed in June 2017, include:

  •  upgrade of regulators in the Nambrok-Denison supply system, most of the channels in the Eastern system and all of the Heyfield channels
  •  construction of the Willang Yarn balancing storage in Denison;
  •  further expansion of the outlet rationalisation and modernisation program
  •  detailed design of the $60M Southern Tinamba pipeline for funding in Phase 1B

Taken together, the works in Phase 1A have saved around 12,000 ML. We expect that most of this water will be offered to customers by distribution in proportion to their entitlement. Some water will be offered for sale via auction and/or a shelf price.

Some of the other benefits include:

  •  modernised systems for three supply zones
  •  reduced times between orders and delivery in modernised areas along with less shifting of orders
  •  on-farm benefits for modernised outlets including more consistent flow rates and higher flow rates
  • more efficient irrigation practices reduce farm run-off and drain outfall, which reduces nutrients heading down to the Gippsland Lakes
  • better asset conditions, investing in the district and supporting future food production
  • improved safety by removing manual handling of regulator drop bars

Willang Yarn Balancing Storage

The $6M Willang Yarn balancing storage, near Denison, is a key component of the MID2030 irrigation modernisation program, which is upgrading systems to secure more efficient use of water throughout the district and more flexibility for customers.  The storage is Southern Rural Water’s largest single capital project to date and a significant milestone in the $32M Macalister Irrigation District 2030 Phase 1A modernisation. The Phase 1a associated works will be complete by June 2017 and bring 12 gigalitres (12,000 megalitres) worth of water savings.

Before the balancing storage construction, the Main Southern Channel did not allow for full channel automation to be implemented, due to legacy issues associated with the long distance from Lake Glenmaggie and Thomson River and the lack of control on the Cowwarr channel. The Eastern Irrigation Business identified the storage as a high priority to better service customers in the western part of the MID.

During construction, SRW asked Gunaikurnai Land and Waters Aboriginal Corporation (GLaWAC) to suggest a name for the storage. Willang Yarn means “rain water” and representatives from GLaWAC participated in the launch, providing a Welcome to Country and conducting a Smoking Ceremony.

Some key facts about Willang Yarn:

  • Footprint of 8.5 hectares
  • Total volume of 186 megalitres (160 megalitres usable)
  • Water can be sourced from from Lake Glenmaggie and the Thomson Dam or river
  • Entirely gravity-fed: no electricity or pumps
  • 1.8 metres usable head in the storage
  • One of Rubicon’s most complex integration projects to date: 96 scenarios have been programmed and tested
Willang Yarn balancing storage

Willang Yarn balancing storage


Southern-Cowwarr Regulator Retrofit Program

Under the Southern-Cowwarr Regulator Retrofit Program Southern Rural Water plans to modernise approximately 179 regulators in Zone 4 (Nambrok-Denison) of the MID. The works will be completed over the 2014 and 2015 winter maintenance periods.

The total capital cost of the proposed project is estimated at $11.2m. In return, the project is expected to produce water savings of 4,075ML as well as improved levels of customer service.


Eastern Regulator Retrofit Program

Under the Eastern Regulator Retrofit Program, SRW  modernised approximately 107 regulators in Zone 5 (Eastern) of the MID. The works will be completed over the 2014 and 2015 winter maintenance periods.

The total capital cost of the proposed project is estimated at $6.05M. In return, the project is expected to produce water savings of 3,875ML as well as improved levels of customer service.


MID 2030 Leading Works Program

The Leading Works Program was a $5M investment in the modernisation of the MID, consisting of the following projects:

  • Nambrok-Denison Stage 1 and 2 Regulator Retrofit Programs
  • Eastern Stage 1 and 2 Regulator Retrofit Programs
  • Stage 1 and 2 of the Outlet Rationalisation Program
  • Heyfield Regulator Retrofit Program
  • Design and construction of the Southern-Cowwarr Balancing Storage
  • Southern-Tinamba Outlet Rationalisation Investigation
  • Southern-Tinamba Prototype Outlet Investigation

Keep up to date and subscribe now

If you would like to receive newsletters from Southern Rural Water, please sign up here.