CICL Update December 2017

Dear Members,

Dear Members

It is now nearly five months since I commenced at CICL. I thank the Board, Members, staff and the Coleambally community for the warm welcome Robin and I have received.

My initial impressions are that CICL is a well run business with a dedicated Board and staff working well together with the goal of delivering excellent services to our Members. We have a world class irrigation supply service, however, the business environment we and our Members operate in is complex and includes the significant challenge of implementation of the Murray Darling Basin Plan (the Plan). CICL is focussing on its business whilst also working to minimise the impact of the Plan on CICL and the community.

In this month's newsletter - 

Department of Industry Allocation announcements


High Security         95%
General Security    33%

T. 1300 850 105

Emergency stops
B.H. 02 6954 4003
A.H. 0427 544 269
Only to be used for emergency stops.

Christmas operations

CICL Offices
Closed from 5pm on Friday 22 December reopening at 8.30am Tuesday 2 January.

No changes to services, with staff contactable on M: 1300 850 1105

Operational however purchases will not be approved and transferred to allocation accounts until Tuesday 2 January.

Water supply restrictions

During this last week we have unfortunately had to implement water order restrictions. This is a result of Irrigation Corporations not being able to obtain their water needs from WaterNSW, partly a result of CICL having to order seven days in advance of its Members’ needs. This is a continuing challenge which is exacerbated during weather extremes. I thank Members for their understanding and patience while we work through the current situation.

To assist CICL, we encourage all Members to provide us with as much notice of their water orders as possible. This will assist staff more accurately forecast our seven day advance order. Whilst CICL allows Members to provide two hours’ notice, CICL on your behalf places our water order seven days in advance. In placing this order we take into account past experience, weather forecasts, recent experience and member notified crop areas. If Members’ crop areas are different to those provided to us earlier this year, please update your crop areas by sending us an email or talking directly to Waterways staff.

An accurate advance order to WaterNSW is important to avoiding restrictions. Conversely if we order more than we divert river losses increase.

Strategic planning

In the coming year I am looking forward to leading CICL as it refreshes its strategic plan to ensure we are well placed to provide our Members with the services required into the future and to work with the irrigation sector to protect our right to access water. A Member focus group has been invited to a meeting, however, if you would like to have direct input into our strategic planning please sends us your thoughts either in writing to our office or via email to

The sorts of questions we are asking to help refresh of strategic plan for the period 2018-2023 are:

  • What do you believe CICL’s core business is?
  • What do you think the business of CICL should look like in the next five to 10 years?
  • What technological advances would you like CICL to employ in the next five to 10 years?
  • What will your needs of CICL be over the coming five to 10 years?
  • What services or peripheral businesses would you like CICL to offer?
  • What will your business look like in the coming five to 10 years?
  • What do you think the next boom crop will be?
  • What do you think the town/community of Coleambally will look like in five to 10 years?

Annual General Meeting update

Thank you to those who attended our AGM In October. The formal business was over very quickly with Grant Latta elected for a one year term and Craig Perkins being elected for a three year term unopposed. We also had some good discussion following presentations by our executive team on our business performance and what is happening with the implementation of the Plan.

Chemicals in drainage water

CICL has recently had numerous instances of metolachlor being detected in our drainage water during sampling required under our EPA licence conditions. Following these detections we have had a visit from the EPA and they are requiring us to implement a comprehensive action plan to reduce the incidence of chemicals in our drainage water. Various measures are currently under consideration by management, the CERC and the Board. Further information will follow in early 2018.

Water table monitoring

The annual readings of approximately 737 piezometers was completed in August and September 2017 as part of our water table management strategy. We are pleased to report that although the area with a water table below two metres has increased since 2016 it is still well below the targeted 10,000ha. The water use intensity level for the 2017/2018 season will remain unchanged at 7.2MLl/ha.

Welcome to Steve Oosthuysen

I am pleased we have attracted Steve from Griffith City Council to CICL to fill the vacancy created by Austin’s election to parliament. Steve is a civil engineer with over 30 years experience in local and state government sectors. Steve and his wife, Sue, will be moving to Coleambally from Griffith early in 2018. In Steve’s three weeks with us he has hit the ground running, including being involved in the management of the recent water restrictions.

External issues

CICL’s external operating environment has been dominated by the Plan and in recent months the governments’ responses to the Four Corners program.

Basin Plan

Important issues that the irrigation industry has been focussed on in 2017 have been the opportunities to reduce the impact of the Plan on communities by supporting the Sustainable Diversion Limit Adjustment Mechanism. We have also focussed on the importance of any investment in additional water (the so called 450GL of up-water) only proceeding if it can be proved it is socially and economically neutral. The MDBA had recommended to the Water Minister that the Plan be adjusted by 605GL, the Murrumbidgee share of this volume is 162GL. An adjustment of 605GL results in the volume that can be diverted increasing by 605GL.

It is therefore extremely disappointing the SA Water Minister withdrew his support for the adjustment package on Tuesday 19 December.

The MDBA recently released its five year evaluation of the Plan. Preliminary indications are that in some areas the social and economic impacts of the Plan are greater than anticipated. The MDBA has also released the results of its Independent Compliance Review. These reports can be accessed from the Murray Darling Basin website at:

Improved compliance

CICL supports the changes being made by the NSW Government to rebuild confidence in NSW water management. I am pleased that Bruce Brown, a CICL director, is one of three directors appointed to the new Natural Resources Access Regulator. I know many irrigators in the southern Basin, particularly those in the Irrigation Corporations, are frustrated by the way Four Corners presented irrigated agriculture. CICL is looking to ensure the Government stays committed to improving the quality of its compliance.

Ministerial reshuffle

The Federal Government’s ministerial reshuffle comes at a crucial time for the Plan. The new Water Minister, the Hon David Littleproud, is from southern Queensland. CICL will be encouraging the new minister to become familiar with the southern Basin including CICL.

Member reminders

Members interested in participating in the tour to the USA in June 2018 should advise our Executive Assistant of their interest by Friday 19 January.

CICL has also renewed its membership with IREC which entitles members to have access to IREC member events at the member rate. We encourage members to take up opportunities provided by IREC.

Season’s greetings

I wish you and your families a safe and merry Christmas and a joyous New Year. I trust 2018 is a positive year for your businesses and I look your forward to meeting more of you in 2018.

I also thank our directors and staff for their dedication and contributions in 2017 and I look forward to working with them in 2018.

Clifford Ashby, CEO