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Phase 1B – Southern Tinamba Modernisation

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.

The Southern-Tinamba project is one of the remaining major upgrades of the supply system. It will enable the supply system to operate at its optimum potential. When complete, Phase 1B will:

  • save an additional 9,700 ML of water through reducing losses
  • 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.

The Phase 1B pipeline program is being delivered in four stages. Stage 1 was completed in August 2017.

The Stage 2 pipeline in Tinamba works commenced in winter 2018 and will be completed in 2019. Stage 4 in Mewburn Park is planned for Mar-Aug 2019 and Stage 3 Riverslea for 2020.

MID2030 Phase 1B Pipeline Principles for Customers

Southern Rural Water strives to ensure all SRW customers are treated fairly and consistently. For the Phase 1B (Southern Tinamba) pipeline customers, this is achieved by following a set of principles or rules for decision making designed to provide a transparent approach.

The decision on the route of the main pipeline replacing the channel system is made by SRW; following the current consultation with customers and other stakeholders to ensure it meets their needs, now and into the future.

The pipeline will follow a new route that incorporates some of the existing channel route.

This creates a need for many farms to be reconnected back to the main pipeline. Farms may be reconnected to the pipeline using either existing channels or pipe, and this decision is based on our principles to ensure customers are treated consistently.

SRW will construct the whole pipeline system using contractors to install the main pipeline, and any private works, including all reconnection works.

SRW will own, operate and maintain the main pipeline system. Ownership of works installed to reconnect customer’s farms to the pipeline will be transferred to customers.

SRW (or its contractors) will be responsible for any problems with private works that SRW constructs for the first year and after that customers will be responsible for ongoing maintenance.

Customers may request different outcomes that are better suited to their needs than determined by the principles. If there is an increased cost for this, it will be subject to SRW agreement and customers will need to agree to contribute the difference in cost. This will be called a co-contribution and the additional works will be carried out by SRW as part of the project.

The key project principles for the pipeline sections of Phase 1B are:

The key project principles for the Pipeline sections of Phase 1B
1. General Guidelines

The overarching guidelines for these principles are:

  • All aspects of the work affecting private property will be subject to a legal agreement between SRW and each customer.
  • Customers will be left with an equal or improved level of service.
  • All works are intended to support efficient and productive commercial irrigation.
  • Customers may request different outcomes than determined by the principles. This will be at their own cost and subject to SRW and customer agreement.
  1. Outlet Principles

All outlets on the pipeline will be sized and treated in accordance with these principles:

  1. No compensation will be paid to customers for outlets that are abandoned. Outlets will be either reconnected or abandoned.
  2. When deciding whether to remove and reconnect multiple outlets or install new ones, least cost will determine the outcome.
  3. All irrigation outlets on the pipeline will open, close and regulate flow automatically.
  4. There will be three basic flow rate options for irrigation outlets:
    1. Small – 6ML/d
    2. Medium – 12ML/d
    3. Large – More than 12ML/d
  5. The starting point for sizing new outlets on the pipeline is a medium outlet (12ML/d).
  6. Outlets will be reduced to a small outlet (6ML/d) if the whole farm (or the area irrigated by the outlet) is less than 12HA
  7. Outlets may be increased to a larger outlet than determined by the principles above, provided that:
    • historic usage of the outlet(s) demonstrates that it is warranted;
    • the costs of the larger outlet and any reconnection works is less than the cost of replacing the outlet(s) as proposed smaller outlet(s);
    • there is available capacity in the pipeline to provide the required flow; and
    • it is standard, SRW approved equipment for the pipeline
  8. Outlets will be designed to ensure that the required flow is provided where the water is delivered (i.e. at the end of the reconnection point if applicable, rather than at the outlet).
  9. Shared outlets between customers may be installed in certain circumstances and can be used to facilitate future subdivisions. Where this occurs, these will always be sized as medium outlets.
  10. Customers may request larger outlets at their own cost (subject to available capacity in the pipeline and if it is standard, SRW approved equipment for the pipeline).
  11. Only customers who have existing pumped outlets can be provided with an outlet type that allows for a similar style connection as determined and approved by SRW (e.g. header tank and float valve arrangement).
  12. Customers who do not currently have a pumped outlet can request an approved style of connection (e.g. header tank and float valve arrangement), by paying the additional costs.
  1. Reconnection Principles

When we need to reconnect a farm back to the main pipeline, the following principles will be applied:

  1. When reducing multiple outlets, the combined cost for reconnection must always be less than the cost of installing all of the outlets.
  2. Farms will be reconnected to the original supply point, or to an agreed alternative if the cost is the same or less.
  3. Reconnection works will be designed to ensure that the required flow is provided where the water is delivered (i.e. at the end of the reconnection point rather than at the outlet).
  4. Reconnection may be achieved through using an existing (SRW or private) channel or a pipeline.
  5. New channels will generally not be constructed for reconnection.
  6. If existing channels are used, this may require minor works to achieve the reconnection.
  7. Existing channels will be used wherever possible except when:
    • the fall of the channel is in the wrong direction
    • the channel is located in a neighbouring property
    • shared outlets are used
  8. If existing channels cannot be used, a new pipeline will be constructed based on the least cost to reconnect the farm via the most practical route.
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 began in the 2017 winter with 1.6km of pipeline and a new offtake completed in stage 1. Under the funding agreement we will complete the project by December 2021.

When will consultations and construction happen?
Stage Description (refer to diagram at rear for location) Consultation Construction
1 Pipeline offtake & upper section of pipeline (Tinamba West area) Complete Complete
2 Central section of pipeline (Tinamba area) Complete Proposed start:

May 2018

3 Channel automation (Riverslea area) Proposed start:

September 2018

Proposed start:

May 2020

4 Pipeline completion  (Mewburn Park area) Complete Proposed start:

May 2019

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. We use consistent principles to size outlets. Smaller outlets may be manually operated while larger outlets will be fully automated. All irrigation outlets will be able to be remotely read. We have developed an option for directly connected and pumped outlets (refer relevant FAQ below).

How many outlets will supply my farm?

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?

The technical requirements have been assessed and no outlets will be directly connected to the pipeline. A header tank arrangement has been developed to deal with existing pumped outlets. This will be discussed during the individual customer consultation process.

Will the pressure in the pipeline drive a pivot or lateral irrigator?

This is not feasible, refer to above comment.  During the original consultation with customers, a pressurised pipeline was considered but not supported by customers. 

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. However, the changes would be at the customer’s cost and can only be installed during the winter shutdown period.

In the case that you wish to subdivide your property, a single outlet may be shared. The customer will be responsible for funding a small charge to alter the metering arrangement, as well as any alteration on farm to separate the two properties.

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.

What is the capacity of the pipeline?

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

Pipeline Location Proposed Design Capacity
Main Southern Channel Offtake 250ML/d
River Channel & Mewburn Park system 65ML/d
TN4 Channel system 90ML/d
TN2/4 Channel system 65ML/d
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?

The main pipeline with a diameter of 600mm and above will be constructed using GRP (Glassfibre Reinforced Plastic). The smaller diameters will be constructed using 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 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. Where any damage occurs, the construction contractor will be required to reinstate to the pre-existing condition. The contractor is required to record the condition of on-farm assets prior to construction. 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?

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).

Who is responsible if the backfill over the pipeline starts to sink?

SRW contractors are responsible for repairing any defects that appear during the first 12 months. After that time, SRW will be responsible for ongoing maintenance including any pipeline defects and subsidence along the pipeline alignment.

What will happen if there is excess soil from the pipeline works?

Most of the excess soil will be used for channel backfill or other use as agreed between the Customer, SRW and the contractor.

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

No, the current drainage network will remain unchanged. Where a drainage pipe exists under the channel this will be retained to ensure the drainage status remains unchanged.

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

The pipeline capacity is based on current land and water use practices with some allowance for increased productivity, climate change and 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 be able to place orders with reduced notice and if capacity in the pipeline/channel is available; 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 obtain all the required permits for the works to proceed.

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.

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