Tasmania’s biggest ever irrigation development is set to go ahead with the approval of two water projects worth $100 million in the state’s Midlands.


Premier Lara Giddings said work on the irrigation schemes to deliver water to properties through the Midlands will begin in early 2012.


“This is one of the most exciting investments in the State’s farming history and will be a great boost for local communities and the broader Tasmanian economy,” Ms Giddings said.


Ms Giddings said most of the water available from the schemes has been sold giving the irrigation projects the green light to proceed.


“The schemes can provide water to about 350 properties from Perth to Kempton and potentially supercharge the growth of agriculture in the region.


Ms Giddings said she was confident the Midlands will become a major food production area in the same way the Coal River Valley has developed following the construction of the Craigbourne Dam.


The Minister for Primary Industries and Water Bryan Green said the Government was forging ahead with its ambitious irrigation plans.


“We are now almost half way through the current list of 13 projects across the State, three schemes have been built another is under construction and the schemes in the Midlands are ready to go,” Mr Green said


“The $88 million Midlands Irrigation Scheme, the largest ever in the State, is expected to be completed in two years and the $12 million Lower South Esk Irrigation Scheme will take about 12 months.


Mr Green said the Tasmanian Government is working closely with the Federal Government to progress irrigation development, "The support of the Commonwealth together with private sector investment is vital to ongoing roll-out of the schemes,” he said. 


Scheme facts:


Midlands Water Scheme – Arthurs Pipeline

The MWS is the largest of the irrigation projects being developed in 13 regions of Tasmania in terms of water volume, irrigable area and capital costs.

It is designed to supply 38,500 ML (megalitres) of water each year within an irrigable area of 55,684 ha stretching from north of Campbell Town to below Kempton.

All summer-delivered water from MWS has now been subscribed at a capital cost of $1,130 per ML of entitlement. This leaves entitlements of 10,514 ML of winter-delivered water available for purchase at a minimum of $1,130 per ML.

The project has secured all Commonwealth Government approvals required for construction. The remaining State and local Government approvals required are at an advanced stage. The two-year construction period is expected to start April next year.

The scheme will use Arthurs Lake water which otherwise would have been used by Hydro Tasmania to generate electricity. There will be no additional drawdown on the lake as a result of the MWS.

It incorporates a small dam on Floods Creek and a 5.5 Mwh (megawatt-hour) mini-hydroelectric power plant. Water will be transported to irrigators by about 120km of mostly buried pipelines and sections of four waterways.


Lower South Esk Irrigation Scheme


The LSEIS is based on a 6,000 ML off-stream storage near Conara to be filled by high flows during winter. The scheme is designed to supply nearly 5,300 ML annually which will be released to farmers during the growing season for use within an irrigable area of 9,000 ha stretching from south of Conara to about Longford.

All water to the project has been subscribed at a capital cost of $1,170 per ML of entitlement.

LSEIS has secured all Commonwealth and Tasmanian Government regulatory approvals required for construction. Local government approvals are at an advanced stage. The 12-month construction period is scheduled to start by January next year.

The project involves a pump-house and pipelines to take water to and from the South Esk River to the off-stream storage on the Milford property near Conara. The scheme does not require an extensive network of distribution pipelines as the water stored during winter will be released from the dam back into the river during summer for irrigators to extract from the waterway themselves.