Media Release - South East Solution Launch

GROUND-BREAKING SOLUTIONS FOR SOUTH EAST IRRIGATORS

An innovative two-stage approach to solving irrigation water reliability issues in Tasmania’s South East has been developed by Tasmanian Irrigation to enable farmers to expand, diversify and grow their agricultural businesses.

Expressions of Interest have today been launched for the longer-term and expanded South East Integration Project, part of the Tranche Three Pipeline to Prosperity initiatives, to understand the level of interest for additional high-surety irrigation water from more than 600 landowners across the South East region. Irrigation water is currently supplied to 251 irrigators in the area.

Tasmanian Irrigation Chief Executive Officer Andrew Kneebone said rapid development and investment through the Coal River Valley, Cambridge and Sorell areas in recent years, particularly in wine grapes, berries and green leaf crops, had resulted in increased demand for irrigation water across the South East Irrigation Schemes (SEIS) Stages One, Two and Three.

“The Tasmanian Irrigation team has been working incredibly hard to progress this two-stage approach, with the key focus on securing an alternate, reliable and cost-effective water source for the short and longer term for our irrigators,” Mr Kneebone said.

“The first stage is the development of a South East Interim Solution that will supply reliable raw water from the River Derwent to existing irrigators in the South East Irrigation Schemes.”

Access-request letters are being posted today to approximately 70 landowners that have been identified on a preferred pipeline corridor for the South East Interim Solution as part of the consultation process required to be undertaken to develop this project.

Mr Kneebone said the additional water supply will enable farmers to diversify and add value to their existing farming operations, while making available up to 30 megalitres of treated water per day for households in Southern Tasmania.

“Interruptions to supply, coupled with the extreme dry conditions, resulted in restrictions being temporarily imposed on SEIS Stage Two and Stage Three irrigators in November last year and we understand the impact this has on high-value crops and businesses,” he said.

“The South East Interim Solution and South East Integration Project will utilise existing DPIPWE water licences from the River Derwent for extraction of fit-for-purpose irrigation water, enabling 30 megalitres of treated water a day to be freed up in the greater Hobart drinking water supply and irrigators to be given additional surety.”

The South East Integration Project will provide additional irrigation water to existing and new irrigators, interconnect all three schemes and standardise the systems. Approximately one third of landowners are located in new areas such as Brighton, Broadmarsh, Elderslie, Gretna and Rosegarland. It is expected that construction on this longer-term project, subject to approvals and funding being secured, will take three to five years.

Mr Kneebone sincerely thanked the Tasmanian and Australian Governments for their commitment to the unique public and private funding model that has been utilised to develop 14 business-enabling irrigation projects around the State.

“Tasmanian Irrigation also very much appreciates the understanding and support of irrigators in the South East who have endured a very dry season and have worked collaboratively with us to ensure real, practical and deliverable solutions are developed to address short and long term irrigation needs in the region.

“We encourage all landowners in the expanded South East irrigation region to complete the Expression of Interest forms being posted today to enable Tasmanian Irrigation to design a long-term scheme that meets demand, as well as engineering, environmental and hydrological factors, for the next 100 years.”

Background

Tasmanian Irrigation (TI) currently supplies irrigation water to 251 landowners in the three South East Irrigation Schemes (SEIS) – 79 in SEIS One; 96 in SEIS Two; and 76 in SEIS Three.

SEIS One was completed in 1986, supplies 2,650 megalitres (ML) of water each year to horticultural, viticultural, orchard and other high value uses in the Coal River Water District, which extends along the Coal River Valley to Colebrook, Campania and Richmond. The 12,500 ML Craigbourne Dam collects water from the Coal River and Craigbourne Creek, which is released into the Coal River and then pumped through three pump stations and 11.5km of pipeline.

SEIS Two commenced operations in May 1992 and supplies 1,980 ML of water to the Richmond, Dulcot and Cambridge areas. Water is sourced from TasWater, pumped into the Daisy Banks Dam and delivered via approximately 30km of pipeline throughout the district.

SEIS Three was opened in October 2015 to provide up to 3,000 ML of summer irrigation water to agricultural, horticultural and viticultural enterprises around the townships of Tea Tree, Campania, Orielton, Pawleena, Penna, Sorell and Forcett. Water is supplied by TasWater at Granton and then delivered via 85km of pipeline and a 200 ML holding dam near Rekuna.

The reliance on treated water from TasWater for irrigation purposes for SEIS Two and SEIS Three has been a long-held concern for Tasmanian Irrigation due to the rising cost of the water, competing pressures for supply and uncertainty of supply during dry seasons, hence the development of the South East Interim Solution and the South East Integration Project. Expressions of Interest forms can also be downloaded from www.tasirrigation.com.au


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