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MID salinity

  • About MID salinity

    Soon after irrigation began in the Nambrok-Denison area in the 1950s, low lying land began to suffer from rising groundwater levels and salt-damaged crops.

    By 1959, considerable areas had been seriously affected by salinity and other areas within the Macalister Irrigation District (MID) were being affected. In 1959-1960 a system of deep surface drains, six groundwater control pumps and more than 100 free flowing bores were installed to remove saline groundwater from shallow aquifers.

    In the early 1990s, land salinisation was again identified and a salinity management plan was devised. The Wellington Community Salinity Committee (previously known by different names), made up of community and agency stakeholders, was responsible for investigations into new pump sites, installing new pumps and managing the operation and maintenance of groundwater pumps.

    Today there are 19 groundwater pumps in the MID and surrounds (download map below). Southern Rural Water is responsible for their operation and maintenance. The operation and maintenance costs associated with the groundwater pumps is funded through a Salinity Mitigation Rate, paid by irrigators.

    The operation of the pumps is reviewed annually. Pump operation is determined using a water balance for the irrigation district, with localised factors being considered so not all pumps will necessarily be operating at the same time. To see which pumps are currently operating, please download the status map below.

    Collectively the pumps help protect nearly 16,000ha of land from high water tables and land salinization. Private groundwater use also contributes and in recent years many farmers have improved their on-farm irrigation practises, reducing the volume of water entering the water table. Modernisation and a changing climate also play a role.

    In 2005, the West Gippsland Catchment Management Authority completed the West Gippsland Salinity Management Plan, which tackles both dryland and irrigation-induced salinity, providing a more holistic approach to salinity management throughout the region.

    A network of observation bores across the Lake Wellington catchment is managed by the West Gippsland Catchment Management Authority. Water level data is collected quarterly from a selection of these bores. Each year, a depth to watertable map is produced from monitoring that is conducted in January.

Drain and reclaim video

A short video from the late 1950’s/early 1960s depicting the development of surface and sub-surface drainage in the Nambrok-Denison area of the Macalister Irrigation District to combat water logging and salinization of the land.

Video Url