Page 1




in the NSW North West

RECYCLED WATER strategic framework




AUTUMN 2012 • VOLUME 28 NO 01

ISSN 0818–9447 PP 245227/00029

MICRO SPRINKLERS from Australia to the world



ALTERNATIVE WATER FEATURE Recycled Water strategic framework


HEALTHY HEADWATERS Upgrades to irrigation systems and skills


UNIVERSITY DAIRY UPGRADE A compete overhaul of University of Sydney's Corstrophine Dairy


AUSTRALIAN MADE Microsprinklers from Australia to the world


EFFICIENCY Improving productive and efficient water use


LEGAL FEATURE An overview of the draft Basin Plan



The production of this publication has been funded by HAL using voluntary contributions from Irrigation Australia Ltd and matched funds from the Australian Government.

REGULAR ITEMS Chairman's Report


CEO's Message


From the Editor


Irrigation Technology: Agriculture


Irrigation Technology: Urban


The Big Issue


Around Industry


Professional Development


IAL News


Irrigation Research




Smart WaterMark


Business Feature




Standards 41 ICID Insights


State Roundup


Contractors Corner


New Products and Features


ON THE FRONT COVER In this edition of the journal we report on the impact of coal seam gas mining on the irrigation sector in North West NSW. One of the people to tell his story is John Hamparsum, an irrigator who warns that introducing coal seam gas mining has the potential to affect the water source and change the fabric of the region. Photo - Anne Currey

10 12 AUTUMN 2012



IAL SUPPORT OFFICE PO Box 863, Mascot NSW 1460 P (02) 8335 4000 F (02) 8335 4099

CHAIRMAN’S REPORT CEO: Ian Atkinson Email:

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EDITORIAL Editor: ANNE CURREY Production Manager: Russell Montgomery Creative Director: Timothy Hartridge Graphic Designer: Annette Epifanidis

ADVERTISING Sales Director: Brian Rault E T (03) 8534 5014

ADVERTISING Advertising in this journal is managed by CommStrat on behalf of Irrigation Australia Limited. Irrigation Australia Limited takes no responsibility for the technical accuracy of article content. All contact with businesses and organisations about advertising is made by CommStrat sales staff, who must identify themselves and the fact that they work for CommStrat on behalf of the IAL. No special consideration will be given to any advertisers as far as editorial content or front cover material is concerned. Decisions about editorial content and the front cover are the prerogative of the editor and the National Board of the IAL. Advertising enquiries should be directed to the sales director.


FIRSTLY I WOULD like to encourage you all to read the Big Issue on page 10 on the Basin Plan and IAL’s position. This started as the content of my regular column but was important enough to merit a full blown article. Hopefully after reading this you will understand the basis for IAL’s lack of public responses to the plan to date and what we are doing to help steer the process along. The Board has been consumed lately by two issues which are not only key to the long term financial position of IAL, but also linked. The first is gaining agreement on a revised operational plan and budget; the second is the Irrigation Australia Conference and Exhibition this June. It gives me no joy at all to report that while IAL is operating reasonably against budget this financial year, we have been unable to make up for the loss of funding for the IDO network. Sadly, the growth in our regular income (from membership, training and events) is slow and we must review both sides of the ledger. By the time this journal goes to press the Board will have a new operational plan which will likely include cuts to IAL staffing and activities. The size of the cuts will be governed by how optimistic we can be in terms of revenue projections. Key among these are the results from the conference and exhibition because we are now the owners and operators of the entire event. The conference comes with a large upside in that it also includes the 2012 ICID Asian Regional Conference, which will attract hundreds of international delegates. This upside is not without risk in that, not only must IAL organise and pay for the setup for the event, it must also pay a dividend back to ICID. IAL and ICID are doing all we can to promote the event internationally and registrations are now coming in. Collectively, we have the ability to influence the success of the other components of the event – the 2012 Irrigation Australia Conference and Exhibition. And this is where I am calling for your support. Please do whatever you can to encourage your staff, clients and interested contacts to register for the conference and come to the exhibition. If previous year’s programmes are any indication, there will be a wealth of new ideas and technologies being discussed. At a time in the industry when many companies have suffered from the protracted drought, it is tempting to start

re-considering taking up space at events like the exhibition. Fortunately for most of us, the rains which started in 2011 have just kept coming, with the result that once again rural allocations are high, river systems are flowing and public and on-farm storages are at levels unseen for many years. A resurgence in cotton and rice crops has seen a return to pre-drought planting levels, with a huge flow on in activity in the irrigation dependent communities which have suffered so much. Farmers have used the returns from their first crops to reduce debt and will start to spend on equipment as the next harvest comes in. Given the speed of the turn around and the magnitude of the funding expected to flow for on-farm infrastructure this year, there has probably never been a better time to invest in promotion. As someone who has exhibited at IAL events for over ten years, I can only implore you to do the same. My approach over the last few years – especially with some of the regional events – has been that as exhibitors or sponsors, if we pull out our dollars when times get tough, that only compounds the impact on the communities which so need the injection of cash we provide. Here we are not talking about any one local community but about IAL, the peak body that has for so long promoted the interests of the rural and urban irrigation industry. So please, make the effort to get along to Adelaide in 2012 - as a delegate to the ICID or IAL conference, as an exhibitor, as a workshop attendee, as a walk-in visitor, or as a host for a group of your customers. I can guarantee that you will get something special from the event. The mood and vibe in Adelaide are always positive: it always seems to attract a wide spectrum of visitors, from end users to industry leaders; the venue is modern, attractive and easy to find; accommodation and meal costs are streets ahead of any other capital city; parking is cheap and easy to find etc. A successful conference and exhibition will help put IAL on to a sound financial future, guaranteeing that we can continue to serve you, the industry.



Welcome to the first edition of Irrigation Australia journal for 2012. This year will


be an important one for IAL, which is organising its biennial conference and exhibition. Anyone involved in the industry

Urban irrigation – on the move (slowly) since water restrictions lifted

knows that this is THE biggest opportunity for people from all sectors to get together

DURING THE RECENT drought, landscape and home garden irrigators faced major water restrictions in virtually every city and town in Australia. Public open space suffered significantly with water being used very sparingly — or in some cases not at all — on playing fields, parks and gardens. We also saw a lot of innovation in the provision of alternative water sources, including managed groundwater recharge and extensive use of water from sewerage treatment plants. With the breaking of the drought and the lifting of water restrictions in most urban areas (excluding Perth) you would expect a big increase in effective use of water to rebuild our public open spaces. However, this doesn’t seem to be happening - at least not uniformly around the country. There are a number of reasons why this might be the case. For example, some areas, such as Brisbane, have suffered significant storm damage to irrigation infrastructure (not to mention the fact it has been so wet as to not require irrigating anyway!). In other areas managers are finding that irrigation infrastructure that was left idle for so long now needs major renovation, if not replacement. This brings us to the main reason I think less has been happening that we might expect: a lack of money in local government budgets. During the drought some maintenance programs were suspended and, of course, water bills would have been low so many organisations got by on

lower budgets. Now money is needed for maintenance and refurbishment, and the cost of water itself has gone up in most areas and is likely to continue doing so. So can we do anything about this? I think so but only if we put the focus on outcomes for local government from better systems and management. How can we convince those in control of the purse strings that better irrigation leads to better outcomes for rate payers, visitors and community values? One example is in our Urban Irrigation Technology column, where Geoff Connellan takes us through the evidence supporting the community value of green space in terms of health and liveability. Irrigation is fundamental to supporting these green areas, and in his article Geoff describes how irrigation practice and management of green space differs to that for sports turf areas. An opportunity that comes from this scenario is that of upgrading urban systems to best practice. I’m looking forward to seeing these sorts of issues discussed in Adelaide at Irrigation Australia Conference 2012. All the best IAN ATKINSON CEO Ph: 0439 009 338

and showcase technology and equipment. In this edition we preview the program and let you know important dates and contacts for registering and exhibiting products. Our features in this edition are living with mining and water sources for irrigation. In our living with mining feature we talk to various people who have a direct interest in coal seam gas mining in the north-west of NSW. Our aim isn’t to take sides or come to a particular position, rather it is to allow these people to tell their stories. What it does show is that introducing mining into an area that is intensively irrigated is an issue that is very complex and that regulation that is seen by all to be credible and fair is crucial. Our other feature is water sources for irrigation. We look at research that takes a different perspective on connectivity between groundwater and surface water, and Matt Shanahan describes a framework that has been developed to aid the decision-making process when determining the most beneficial use for recycled water. In our regular columns I have tried to include issues that appeal to all of the membership. Just a selection of topics are: in our Big Issue, Peter Toome provides the

GOT AN OPINION ON AN IRRIGATION ISSUE? WE WOULD LOVE TO HEAR WHAT YOU HAVE TO SAY. A number of readers have asked for a Letters to the Editor page and here at Irrigation Australia we’d love to hear what you think about an issue in the irrigation industry - any issue. Send your letters to Anne at email

IAL perspective on the draft Murray-Darling Basin Plan, while in Contractors Corner John Pryor from Hydrogold examines the very practical question of the advantages of HDPE and PVC pipe, and in our Urban Technology feature, Geoff Connellan asks whether urban green space is a luxury or a necessity. I hope you enjoy the articles in this edition of the journal. If you have any “special requests” for issues to be covered then I’m only too happy for you to get in contact. ANNE CURREY Editor in Chief



TECHNOLOGY: AGRICULTURE GROWERS AND COMMUNITY BENEFIT FROM IRRIGATION SYSTEM UPGRADES THE PROCESSING TOMATO industry in northern Victoria and southern NSW, which has been quick to take advantage of Australian Government funding to modernise irrigation systems, says that the benefits will be felt both on farm and in the community. In August last year twenty-one processing tomatoes growers received funding under Round 1 of the On Farm Irrigation Efficiency Program to convert their systems from surface to subsurface drip.

Water savings and productivity gains According to Liz Mann from the Australian Processing Tomato Research Council, a program delivery partner for the project, it made good economic sense for the growers to enter an arrangement where they gave up half of the water saved in return for new irrigation systems that are more efficient. “Based on local experience, the water savings with drip average around 2 ML/ha, depending on factors like rainfall, planting time and crop yield,” said Liz. But even more significant to the tomato growers than the water savings as a result of drip are the productivity gains. “There is local industry data that show yield increases of an average of around 30 per cent using subsurface drip,” explained Liz.

“This was a big incentive for our growers to become involved in the program.” As a result of the funding, the industry has increased the area irrigated by subsurface drip to 80 or 90 %, which gives them more flexibility with management. “Growers have more options with cropping rotations so they might grow tomatoes in one block for two or three years then switch over to another crop like lucerne or maize for a couple of years,” said Liz. This helps with soil management and is a way of diversifying farm income source. One of the people who took advantage of the funding to upgrade his irrigation system was Mark Hill. Mark owns a 400 ha mixed farming property near Rochester in northern Victoria where he grows wheat, barley and maize as well as processing tomatoes. He converted a 100 ha block that was furrow irrigated to subsurface drip. “I was planning to convert this block to subsurface over a number of years, but the funding allowed me to expand quicker than I had planned and to convert more area,” explained Mark. His system was installed last year and has been up and running for twelve months. The key advantages for him are the increase in yield and improved management. “It’s a lot easier to manage than a large area of furrow irrigation, and I save a lot of time not having to physically check siphons. The lifestyle benefits because of the time I save also can’t be overlooked,” he said.

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Mark said that his crop rotations of three years of tomatoes followed by winter cereals will be similar to those of the past but the advantage of drip is that he has more flexibility and tighter control over water use. The system design was done by Matt Binder from Netafim. Matt is a certified irrigation designer under Irrigation Australia’s certification program. This certification program is an industry owned and managed scheme that recognises the skills of industry professionals. Certified irrigation designers have: a minimum of three years design experience, successfully completed a series of exams and a code of conduct that they follow. Matt said that the system used non pressure compensating tape and that the design was done to industry standard. The block wasn’t flat so elevation differences were catered for by feeding tube down the slope, and there was allowance for a flow variation of 15%.

Community benefits Mark is enthusiastic about the On Farm Irrigation Efficiency Program because he can see that it has a number of benefits. “It has allowed growers like me to update and modernise our irrigation systems much faster than we could have using our own resources. As well as that, it is a good way of creating water savings and, importantly, stimulating work in the district,” he said. Liz sees the community benefits too. She believes that the experience here has been a positive one so growers have been happy with and trust the process, and the system on the ground has worked.

Mark Hill inspects main lines before they are installed on his irrigation block.

“A big message is that this is a better option than simply buying allocation, although obviously there is also a place for that too. “The funding has strengthened the long-term viability and sustainability of the industry, and by extension, of local communities. The value of processing tomatoes at the farm gate is $30 million a year, so it is measures like this that help to ensure the longer term viability of the industry in the region. “The industry is important in the region as a significant portion of the farm gate income stays in the local community, having flow on effects that benefit many more people than just farmers,” she explained. ANNE CURREY, IRRIGATION AUSTRALIA

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Hard lessons have been learnt during the drought and associated water restriction regimes with one result being that the value of green space is much more appreciated. While the wide range of benefits of sporting grounds, which are usually irrigated, have been recognised, the value of all vegetation in urban areas is now being more critically evaluated. TERMS SUCH AS “wellbeing” and “liveability” are being used to describe highly desirable characteristics of urban areas. Health is fundamental to the wellbeing of a community, and green space directly affects community physical and mental health in a number of ways. These health benefits include reduced cardiovascular disease, and a decrease in obesity and diabetes risk as a result of being able to exercise. Mental health benefits include reducing mental fatigue and stress as a result of the beneficial contact with nature. Increasingly, the services provided by green space are being linked with healthy communities, in particular: • green space that provides opportunity for exercise • green space that modifies the local microclimate e.g. by reducing temperatures. While studies show that Australians are becoming more sedentary with 50% not exercising enough, people close to accessible and attractive green space actually exercise more. In a UK report, the Natural England Technical Information Note TIN055, published in 2009, it was stated that where people have good perceived and/or actual access to green space they are 24% more likely to be physically active. The role of urban heat stress is well illustrated by the number of deaths that occurred during the bushfire period around Melbourne in 2009. It was reported in The Age, 6 April 2009, that there were 374 additional deaths (referred to as excess deaths) in the heat wave period of 26 January to 1 February 2009. Heat stress, which can be mitigated through functional green spaces, was considered the main cause of these deaths. Providing opportunity for exercise and modifying microclimates aren’t where the benefits of green space stop. Social benefits for both individuals and the community can also be achieved and it is also acknowledged that access to greenspace can not only have a positive impact the health of an individual, but the lack of access can also contribute to a greater disadvantage of already vulnerable populations.


There is an increasing awareness that our health and the environment in which we live are closely linked. There are also numerous environmental benefits, for example carbon sequestration and improved hydrology, which translate to an economic benefit.

the ongoing effective functioning of the site. In the last few years, there has been a strong push away from potable mains supply for irrigated sites in urban areas, with alternatives such as stormwater and recycled water being adopted. Whatever the water supply, it is most important that there be security of supply for these sites. Turning off or running dry during hot summer periods should not be an option for green spaces that are essential for the wellbeing and health of urban communities.

Green space requirements To provide the required services, a site must: • be accessible, e.g. ready walking distance • be big enough to provide the required services • have plant species that are able to provide the required services • have healthy plants • be in good condition and attractive to users • be sustainable, particularly in terms of water supply.

Green space has many more benefits than simply being more aesthetically pleasing than an area such as this that is not irrigated.

Parkland watering

Water supply and irrigation Delivering these ecosystem services generally requires some form of supplementary watering in the form of irrigation. In some cases it may be only for establishment, but in many cases it is required for

The irrigation and management of sports turf areas receives a lot of attention and resources and it is generally well understood; the same cannot be said for the irrigation of parklands and street trees. While maintaining healthy vegetation is essential, it does not generally have the same rigorous water demands of sports turf areas. There is often more opportunity to use alternative water sources for parklands, particularly stormwater, than for many sports turf areas. Parklands also tend

to be a good fit with integrated water management solutions, e.g. using stormwater to provide most of the demand and using potable to fill the gap. The nature of the water demand of trees and parklands lends itself better to stormwater than traditional sports turf areas, which usually need relatively small amounts of irrigation water, applied often. Instead, deep and infrequent applications of large amounts of irrigation water can be made to trees and grass used for passive recreation.

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TECHNOLOGY: URBAN One thing common to irrigation for both passive and active recreation areas is that reliability of supply is crucial, which means that storage capacity for sports turf areas must be carefully considered. The better matching between supply and demand for deep rooted plants is shown the figure1. Delivering water at depth, early in the irrigation season, is referred to as “water banking”. Figure. Graphical representation of matching water supply and demand for deep rooted plants

Water sensitive urban design (WSUD) risks

Also, because of the storage capacity of the soil, if the water is available, it can be used to charge the soil reservoir if it is likely to be taken up by plants. In the case of trees, which have active root systems typically down to 500 mm, the soil can act as a significant storage.

Landscape plantings have specific environmental requirements if they are to grow and remain healthy. Key requirements include soil moisture and soil health. It is important that stormwater systems are designed and managed to meet these requirements. Potential risks for urban plantings include low soil volumes, restricted root systems, compacted anaerobic soils, polluted soils, pH and nutrient imbalances, saline soils and low soil moisture. It is important that


each of the potential risks is assessed and steps taken to eliminate or minimise these. In terms of WSUD water supply, both the quantity and quality of water are critical. The use of non-potable water for irrigation introduces potential risks to plants, soil, water bodies, equipment and people. This is why defining threshold values for water quality parameters and monitoring to ensure compliance is essential. The risk of algal formation in ponds and storages and the risks associated with transfer of plant pathogens, such as phytophthora, require particular attention.

Summary Linking green space directly to the health benefits delivered and quantifying these in terms of economic value is very important in supporting investment in green infrastructure. The role of irrigation is critical to ensuring that these facilities deliver the required services and benefits to the community in a reliable and sustainable way. The shift from optional green spaces to essential green spaces will have important positive implications for the irrigation industry in the future.

Boeing Reserve, in the north-western metropolitan municipality of Moonee Valley in Melbourne, incorporates three ovals and a baseball field, and has been severely affected by the recent drought. This location provided


an opportunity to demonstrate the benefits of irrigated green space through investment in stormwater

For more information go to the references below or contact Geoff Connellan, email: Geoff.connellan@, website:

infrastructure. An economic evaluation undertaken by the Department of Health has considered the capital and operating costs of a new stormwater system. Initial aims were to provide a system that could irrigate sports turf, improve water quality discharge to a nearby waterway and improve management of nuisance flood flows. This evaluation considered the cost of infrastructure and the health and wellbeing benefits that


could be achieved by this investment

Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (2011) ‘Physical inactivity’, Australian Government, Canberra

A water balance of the site shows that the potential stormwater inflow, from the catchment area of 19.4 ha and imperviousness of 54%, will be 24 ML a year. The design output from the stormwater system to be used for irrigation is 8 ML a year. It is also estimated that there will be an increased evapotranspiration rate of 33 ML/yr from the stormwater system and site. This will provide a significant cooling benefit. There will also be improvements in discharged water quality in terms of reduced sediment (89%), reduced phosphorous (72%) and reduced nitrogen (65%). The economic benefits delivered from the site through improved physical and mental health, as well as other social and environmental benefits, including urban heat island (UHI) mitigation, have been estimated to be at least $300,000 per year. This figure is calculated using the cost of physical inactivity and conservative estimates of the cost savings of psychological and social benefits. Capital and maintenance costs over a

Fam, D., Mosely, E., Lopez, A., Mathieson, L., Morison, J. and Connellan, G. (2008) ‘Irrigation of urban green space: a review of the environmental, social and economic benefits’, Technical Report No.04/08. Co-operative Research Centre for Irrigation Futures, Darling Heights, Qld. Maller, C Townsend, M St Leger, L, Henderson-Wilson, C Pryor, A Prosser, L Moore, M (2008) ‘Healthy parks, healthy people: the health benefits of contact with nature in a park context’, Deakin University, <>oache, G., Oates, H., Dedman, R. and Slota-Kan, S (2011) Utilising stormwater for healthy communities, Poster Publication, Environmental Health Unit, Department of Health (Vic), Melbourne.

ten-year period have been estimated to be about $1.24M. The cost of the water produced by the stormwater system has been determined to be $5.76/kL. Over a ten-year period it has been shown that the net economic


benefit will be more than $2.5 million.


IRRIGATION JOURNAL CONFERENCE ISSUE 2012 The May Issue of Irrigation Australia Journal will be distributed at the Annual Irrigation Australia Conference as the Official Publication of the event to all visitors, delegates and exhibitors. Confirm your advertising presence now and ensure your message is seen by all those attending as well as the entire Irrigation Australia Membership nationwide. Contact Brian Rault on (03) 8534 5014 or


BETTER CONTROL BRINGS WATER AND LABOUR SAVINGS For Peter and Michelle Hill, being able to upgrade the irrigation systems on their properties near Loxton in SA to save water and time was an opportunity not to be missed. The upgrade was made possible as a result of funding received through round one of the Australian Government’s On-Farm Irrigation Efficiency Program. Participating farmers agree to trade at least half of the water savings made as a result of efficiency improvements back to the environment, with those improvements being funded by the government. Peter and Michelle’s Ridgehill Properties consist of eight farms growing citrus and winegrapes in the Loxton area. Irrigation water is supplied by the Central Irrigation Trust. They decided that improving the existing irrigation control system and soil moisture monitoring network would save water and allow them to more efficiently manage their properties, which total 170 ha. “We have eight properties in Central Irrigation Trust’s Loxton District and are delivered water on demand through the CIT network with the on-farm irrigation managed by six irrigation controllers,” explained Peter. As part of the funding, the control system was upgraded so that it could be centrally controlled from the house. This upgrade was managed by Richard James from Loxton Irrigation Centre. Richard is an irrigation consultant and is a certified irrigation designer through Irrigation Australia Limited’s certification program. Richard said that his role was to connect the base station at the house with eight Netafim NMC-Junior controllers in the field using radio communications. These controllers were connected to Enviroscan soil moisture monitoring equipment, as well as to flow meters at each of the farms.

“Connecting them to flow meters means that if a reading is outside a set tolerance, Peter and Michelle know that that there could be an issue and that they need to check the system,” said Richard.

Environment and farmers benefit

The Ridgehill Properties project is one of twenty-one individual irrigator projects worth a total of $1.52 million administered by delivery partner, the SA Murray-Darling Basin Natural Labour and water savings Resources Management Board (SAMDBNRM) As well as improving irrigation water-use as part of Round 1 of the On-Farm Irrigation efficiency on their properties, a big attraction of Efficiency Program. the upgrade was the labour savings. These projects involve extensions to existing “The ability to manage irrigation on all soil water monitoring networks and upgrades properties from a central point will not only allow to improve on-farm irrigation automation, us to achieve further water savings, but also reduce fertigation and filtration equipment, mostly our labour inputs,” said Peter. on citrus and winegrape properties. The “The extension of the soil moisture monitoring improvements are projected to save 706 ML network will also help us further refine our of water, of which 355 ML will be returned to irrigation scheduling to best meet crop water the environment. requirements throughout the season, which is “Getting assistance to upgrade irrigation particularly important given the different varieties systems and save water has meant there has been and ages of our plantings,” he added. solid interest from irrigators in the program,” The Hills were already familiar with the said Michael Cutting, who is responsible for Enviroscan system because they had been using managing the projects through the SA MDB it on their properties for some time, so there was NRM Board. no need to spend time learning a new system. As a result, Michael said that the response As well, Peter was confident that increasing the from irrigators for Round 2 of the funding number of monitoring sites would result in extra has been strong. water savings. “Ultimately, what this program means is that irrigators benefit from upgrading their systems, some of which are pretty old and due for replacement, and the environment benefits from the return of saved water,” he explained. All of which fits perfectly with the Board’s aim to put in place new strategies to save water and ensure irrigation properties are more sustainable and adaptable into the future. For more information go to the website publications/action/local-stories/southMichael Cutting (left) shows Kylie Collet and David Tonkin australian-riverland.html his upgraded control system.


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AUTUMN 2012 · 9

THE BIG ISSUE BASIN PLAN MARK 2 The November release of the Basin Plan mark 2 triggered a round of controversy as widespread and bitter as that which accompanied the original document in late 2010. For the environmental lobby, 2750 GL was enough to consign the basin to certain doom, while for irrigator groups, 2750 GL would consign farms and communities to certain doom. THIS OPPOSITION MAY prove one single point: that it is a compromise position, struggling to balance environmental and social outcomes. The challenge for the government, particularly if it is to get the ensuing bills though Parliament, and the MDBA, is how to sell it. I’ve been asked what IAL’s position is on this big issue. My answer is that in an environment where the argument is being driven by emotion and headlines, it is very difficult for rational discussion to gain air time. Any statement from IAL, unless it takes a controversial position, would be unlikely to be aired.

irrigators we see in the media railing against the changes? In part, the answer lies in terrible timing and massively bad PR. The first draft plan was released at the peak of the drought, when many irrigators had zero or very low allocations. The plan was perceived as the government (and the urban majority) intending to take more water away from farmers who were already hurting. It did not take much to build an anti-plan publicity cyclone, into the eye of which the MDBA blindly flew. With the benefit of hindsight we can see that they should have pulled back and abandoned the IAL position meetings at which they became the butt of so much That doesn’t mean we don’t have a position, which anger. The PR nightmare could have been avoided by is that: MDBA changing the message to say that integrated • more than 100 years of irrigation development has management of the whole system provides a tool to changed our natural systems and that society has smooth the highs and lows. By agreeing to cede water placed a high value on pushing them back into a in good times, it is possible to provide more in times more natural balance of low flows; that if there is another drought as severe • to maintain the right to continue irrigating we as the last, there actually may be more water available must adopt irrigation practices that, as a minimum, to farmers rather than less. cause no further environmental damage and, Before weirs, regulators and barrages were built, ideally, improve environmental outcomes our major rivers stopped flowing in every severe • IAL is (and must be seen to be) the champion of drought. Now, our community places a value on sustainable irrigation. maintaining a working store of water in the system, There is still plenty of room to improve the which sustains the irrigation-dependent rural delivery and use of water for irrigation. This is communities built along them. The rivers stopped not siding for the environment at the expense of flowing in the last drought, not because of extraction irrigators, rather it is a simple statement of fact. I from irrigation, but because there was no rain. would challenge allocation holders who argue As a result of the $400 million handed to the BoM against this to put it into an economic and social to build the National Water Accounts, in the future perspective: the best farmer will always be the we will know much more about water in Australia, one who hands on something in better condition e.g. how much rain has fallen, how much has gone than when they started. For me, there is no more into replenishing groundwater, and how much has obvious manifestation of the triple bottom line, for flowed in our river systems. In summary, everything at heart every irrigator must first and foremost be about the supply side of the water accounts. But what an environmental custodian. In doing so they will has been done about the demand side? actually improve, rather than harm, farm profitability. The move to mandatory metering of irrigation Why is this so much at odds with what irrigator will tell us what has been used, but no-one can yet groups are saying publicly? Why are most of the tell us what should have been used. The difference 10

between these figures is the dividend which can in any year be returned to the environment. And this should always have been the focus of the plan. It was Minister Burke who (at the consultative meetings held in 2010 for the preparation of the Basin Plan) posed this question to the NFF and NIC. Neither group had an answer and, although both took it on notice, no progress has been made on defining what it should be. There is of course no single answer, just as there is no single or fixed answer to the supply side. In wet years, permanent crops will use less water than in dry years and more area will be planted to crops generally. In dry years, less ground will be planted but crops will require more irrigation to plug the deficit between rainfall and crop demand. But none of these are sound reasons for not trying to find the answer. What we must do is to argue for a methodology - one that is sound, logical and can be accepted by all sides. If we can find $400 million to sort the supply side, is it not worth allocating some funds for demand? This does not need a complex system, rather a simple model based on climate, planted area, crop type and management. The basic methodology has been tried in permanent crops and can be extended easily to cover annual and opportunistic crops. It just needs more effort to survey planted area and to agree on a method for determining crop water use. This is where IAL has a role. We have the science, the knowledge, the people and the methods at our disposal to provide the answer. What we lack is the political clout and resources to make it happen. We now need to make a concerted effort to build the case for funding. And this is our once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to stand up. We then become a part of the solution: the bridge between the needs of irrigation and the environment. PETER TOOME, IAL

AROUND INDUSTRY THE LATEST NEWS FROM THE IRRIGATION INDUSTRY ORDER OF AUSTRALIA MEDAL FOR CHRIS STATHY Congratulations to Chris Stathy, Managing Director of Philmac who has been awarded the Medal of The Order of Australia in the General Division for his service and commitment to Australia’s water and manufacturing industries. Chris has helped launch, re-invigorate and serve on numerous industry organisations and committees across the water and manufacturing sectors, as well as being a strong advocate for training and development of the next generation of leaders in both fields. “It is a real honour to receive this award,” Chris said. “I am passionate about the water and manufacturing industries and enjoy working with some of the most committed and innovative professionals.”

JOHN DEERE WATER EXCLUSIVE DISTRIBUTOR FOR MOTTECH Mottech Water Management, global supplier of Motorola Control Systems, has appointed John Deere Water as exclusive distributor for the Australian agricultural market. The agreement will see John Deere Water supplying the range of Motorola IRRInet Control Systems to Australian growers. Once thought only to be within the reach of large scale operations, many small to mid size growers are adopting automated irrigation systems to enable them to reduce labour and to more efficiently manage their crops. The Mottech IRRInet system can be used to monitor a wide range of sensors and control various devices such as pumps, valves and PLC controllers through ‘If-Then’ programming. Using this technology, the control system can be programmed to shut off pumps and send a message to the farm manager’s mobile phone if there is a sudden change in pressure or water quality. Alternatively, weather sensors

Michael will deal with irrigation dealers and growers in WA and NT. He can be contacted on mobile 0417 553 908 or email .


Michael Laughlin is Toro Australia’s new territory manager for WA and NT.

can automate a sprinkler system when there is a high risk of frost. Information including the current John Deere Water product range can be found at www.

TORO APPOINTS NEW TERRITORY MANAGER Toro Australia, has just appointed Michael Laughlin to the role of irrigation territory manager WA/NT. Michael has worked for Toro on a consultancy bases for the past five years, supporting the company in the Asia region. He brings with him a wealth of knowledge, with over 30 years experience in the irrigation industry, and 18 years selling drip irrigation to agricultural growers. Toro Australia Director, Tim Emery, said Michael’s appointment was part of the organisation’s pursuit of continuous improvement and superior customer service. “Michael has a passion for the irrigation industry, and brings a wealth of drip irrigation and filtration experience to his new role at Toro Australia”, Tim said.

Toro Irrigation held a successful irrigation consultants meeting in Bowral in the Southern Highlands of NSW in late November 2011. Sixteen irrigation consultants from around Australia met to see the latest in irrigation innovation covering agricultural, commercial and golf markets. “It was an extremely worthwhile exercise,” said Patrick O‘Shannessy, Toro’s National Golf and Specification Manager. “We have received very positive feedback from attendees on the breadth of information, the quality of presentations, event timing, venue and hospitality, and the tour of the International Cricket Hall of Fame and Bradman Museum was immensely enjoyed by all.” “People also found it a great opportunity to bounce ideas off each other in a larger forum. We had over 400 years of combined irrigation experience just with our consultant attendees in the room, so the atmosphere was great.” Speakers at the event included Toro staff and Kenne James, Toro’s Senior Manager –Golf Development, International Business , who delivered a “hands on” presentation on modern decoder systems that included system types, risk management and even demonstrating practicalities of achieving sound cable splices and the tools required. Irrigation system renovation is an important area that many consultants deal with in their work. For the end user, often finding the initial capital to unlock the potential efficiencies and related savings of an upgrade can be hard. Andy Skirka from Toro Finance introduced a range of new finance options now available.


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RECYCLED WATER Strategic Framework

The best use for recycled water is not always obvious. Rather, a number of potential end use options often seem as deserving as each other. THE AUSTRALIAN GUIDELINES for Recycled Water, and the various State Government recycled water guidelines, provide good advice on possible recycled water uses and what quality water is appropriate for a particular use (fit-for-purpose). However, the decision as to what is the most beneficial end use is not always clear and needs to take into account environmental, economic and social aspects. Determining the best end use of recycled water must balance often competing demands and consider such alternatives as: • being used locally to provide local/individual benefit • being used more regionally to support regional/ community benefit, possibly at a greater cost. In 2004, Grampians Water (now Grampians Wimmera Mallee Water – GWMWater) was faced with this very challenge and required a process that could help them identify potential end users of recycled and then select the best option. The outcome was the development of a Recycled Water Strategic Framework that has been effectively used across a number of schemes by GWMWater, as well as around Victoria. The framework aims to provide a balance between local and/or regional development needs and environmental issues. It considers the technical, environmental, economic and social elements of beneficially using recycled water, and provides a way of ranking multiple end use options. 14



A summary of the framework is provided highlighting the decision-making process that is used when determining the most beneficial use for recycled water. The framework uses an iterative approach, as summarised in the figure.

The key to using the framework is to carefully work through each of the stages shown in the figure, ensuring that each stage is fully investigated before moving to the next. Where the required information for a stage may not exist, advice is given in the framework on how the information can be generated, or the type of information that should be investigated. For example, users are provided with the necessary direction to prepare a policy statement specific to the use of recycled water, and are also guided through the required investigations to technically assess the appropriateness of each of the end uses identified. Importantly, the framework can also be used by the recycled water supplier to help explain the management actions necessary to deliver a sustainable recycled water scheme, and to provide confidence that a robust and technically sound process has been followed in determining the best use of recycled water. The framework provides a good balance between higher-level policy necessary to drive recycled water use, and the technical considerations required to deliver sustainable reuse. You can download a copy of the framework from the RMCG website:

1. POLICY STATEMENT • Determine strategic intentions with regard to use of recycled water

2. INTEGRATED WATER RESOURCE PLANNING • Consider use of recycled water in context of regional and local issues relating to water resource management • Assess regional water strategy, economic development strategy, environmental planning schemes, regional catchment strategy, town planning schemes and municipal strategic statements • Determine strategic significance of recycled water at a regional level

3. IDENTIFICATION OF OPTIONS • Apply technical principles to sieve out options • Consult with stakeholders who are potential beneficiaries of reuse

4. EVALUATION OF OPTIONS • Investigate options in detail • Undertake triple-bottom line assessment • Determine appropriate pricing and cost allocation

5. IMPLEMENTATION OF PREFERRED OPTION • Undertake detailed design • Prepare environmental management plan, e.g. EIP • Establish reuse agreements • Acquire EPA and other necessary approvals

6. MONITORING AND REVIEW • Monitoring and review existing projects • Undertake comparative analysis against other existing or potential projects

Figure. Recycled water strategic planning framework


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Irrigation Journal Autumn 2012  

Irrigation Australia Limited industry journal

Irrigation Journal Autumn 2012  

Irrigation Australia Limited industry journal