Modernising the CIA
The modernisation of irrigation in the Coleambally Irrigation Area (CIA) has occurred in stages.
Land and Water Management Plan
Modernisation of irrigated agriculture in Coleambally Irrigation Area (CIA) started in earnest with the Coleambally Land and Water Management (LWMP). The LWMP was a joint government and community investment in improved land and water management to preserve the environmental sustainability of the CIA. Its planning began in the early 1990s and implementation ran from 2000-2014. An investment of $17M from government, $6M from irrigators and local government leveraged a $70.6M investment by CIA irrigators in improved irrigation layouts. All farms had EM31 surveys completed, 95% completed a whole farm plan and 70% completed recycling systems.
Specific objectives were:
- To minimise accessions to the water-table thus stopping or minimizing the spread of high water-tables and soil salinity
- To decrease the extent and duration of waterlogging across the CIA
- To improve farm productivity
- To maintain and improve water quality and to minimise the downstream impact of irrigation in the CIA
- To maintain and improve the natural environment in the district.
Preparation of the LWMP started in 1991 and its development was a partnership between the community and the NSW government. Implementation started in 2000 with agreement between the Coleambally Environmental Committee, a Committee of Coleambally Irrigation and the NSW Government. Preparation of the LWMP occurred in parallel with the discussion with the NSW government over local management and privatisation of the CIA and was an important element of the Coleambally irrigation community taking a lead role in determining their future and the future of the CIA.
The main elements of the LWMP were:
- Whole Farm Planning including EM31 surveys to identify prior stream and soil suitability for rice growing
- Constructions of farm recycle systems
- Change in land use
- Research and development
Modernising our water supply infrastructure
In 2001 the newly formed Board of Coleambally Irrigation Co-operative Limited, commenced a trial of the new and untested Australian designed and manufactured technology called Total Channel Control (TCC). This product, developed by Rubicon Water, promoted accurate flow measurement, flow control, in built diagnostics, connection to SCADA, water tight seals and accurate and tamper proof on-farm meters.
The investment in TCC, including the progressive replacement of all of our Dethridge Outlets with new meters, has transformed both the water delivery efficiency and service to irrigators of our service.
Modernisation has been funded by CICL and by Government.
Government investment was contingent on a share of the water savings being transferred from CICL’s conveyance licence to government.
CICL has participated in three different government environmental water recovery programs.
1. Water for Rivers – Joint Government Enterprise to acquire water for the Snowy River
2. WaterSmart Australia – Commonwealth Program, water savings contributing to the Murray Darling Basin Plan water recovery target.
3. Private Irrigation Infrastructure Operators Program – Commonwealth Program with water savings contributing to the Murray Darling Basin Plan water recovery target.
Measuring Water in CICL
CICL’s modernisation journey was based on the philosophy “if you cannot measure it you cannot manage it.”
Since the early 2000s CICL has invested in technology to improve the measurement of water from its offtake, through its channel system and onto farm.
In parallel, CICL has invested in complex hydraulic modelling software, solar powered technology and radio networks that allow remote monitoring and control of our infrastructure and automation of our farm delivery service using TCC.
This approach has delivered improvements in water efficiency and irrigation service.
Measurement from the River
CICL has one extraction point from the Gogeldrie Weir pool on the Murrumbidgee River. This extraction point (offtake) has undershot radial gates that are remotely controlled by CICL.
CICL’s diversions are measured by an Accusonic (brand name) meter. It is an Acoustic Transit Time type meter and considered best in its class for accurate metering of offtakes of our type.
CICL contracts a hydrographer to undertake an independent gauging once per month to verify the accuracy of diversions. We also complete quality assurance tests throughout the year to provide confidence in our metering.
Measurement onto farm
CICL controls and measures its irrigation water deliveries onto farms predominantly by using Rubicon’s Flumegate™. CICL has also installed a small number of Rubicon’s Slipmeters™.
These meters are all equipped with telemetry and their opening and closing is controlled via CICL’s TCC network. The accuracy of these meters in the field is within +/- five percent.
Confidence in the accuracy of measurement onto farm is important to CICL and its members. We have a robust approach to quality assurance. This includes CICL checking the set up of its farm meters twice yearly, fully “commissioning” 20 percent of our farm meters each year, and engaging an external certified meter validator to audit a representative sample of our gates each year.
Stock and garden meters
CICL measures all diversions from our channel system, including stock and garden water. This approach reflects the value we place on water and ensures equity between our members.