Four new irrigation efficiency projects in NSW funded by the Federal Government have been announced to provide an average of over 75 gigalitres to help bridge the gap to sustainable diversion limits under the final Murray Darling Basin Plan.


Water Minister Tony Burke said  funding of up to $382.5 million would be provided for projects in four irrigation districts in NSW to modernise their systems under the second round of the NSW Private Irrigation Infrastructure Operators Program. The funding is part of the Sustainable Rural Water Use and Infrastructure Program.

Funding of up to $181,880,947 has been approved for Murray Irrigation Limited, up to $164,585,292 for Murrumbidgee Irrigation Limited, up to $66,260,968 for Narromine Irrigation Board of Management, and up to $8,085,000 for Coleambally Irrigation Cooperative Limited.


The approved projects include a range of works including reducing leaks in irrigation channels that deliver water to farms, removing some inefficient irrigation channels, reducing the footprint of some irrigation schemes, and installing stock and domestic pipelines to replace inefficient irrigation channels.


The draft Murray Darling Basin Plan released last month recommends a water use reduction target of 2750 gigalitres to be returned to the basin to restore river health with a transition period through till 2019.


The Draft reported that 1068 gigalitres of water had been already secured which would offset the recovery target of 2750 gigalitres. Once the 214 gigalitres from the Northern Victorian Irrigation Renewal Project and this 75 gigalitres are added, total water recovery will reach 1357 gigalitres, 18 giglatires off half way towards the Sustainable Diversion Limits proposed in the draft.


The draft basin plan is going through 20 weeks of further community consultation. A final basin plan will be presented to the Parliament in 2012.