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The Goulburn-Murray Water (GMW) Connections Project was the largest irrigation modernisation project in Australian history. The project has completed its works and measures to achieve a long-term water recovery of 433 gigalitres (GL), exceeding its target by 4 GL. The on-ground works to reach the target were completed in October 2020.

Water recovery is verified through an independent audit in accordance with the Minister for Water’s Water Savings Protocol.

The audit process and the Protocol assure that water recovery is real and that water entitlements issued for the water recovery will not adversely impact on the environment and on the reliability of existing water entitlements. This is the high standard needed for the Minister for Water to issue water entitlements.

Final audit of long-term water recovery

The final audit of long-term water recovery achieved by the Connections Project is for works and measures from 1 July 2020 to 30 June 2021.

The audit also confirmed the final cumulative long-term average annual water recovery from the GMW Connections Project is 433,046.3 megalitres (ML).

The 2020-21 water recovery audit is the 13th and final independent audit of long-term water recovery from the GMW Connections Project.

Independent auditor Cardno (Qld) completed the audit (now Stantec (Qld) Pty Ltd).

Summary of GMW Connections Project water recovery achievements

The verified cumulative long-term average annual water recovery for the GMW Connections Project to 30 June 2021 is 433,046.3 ML.

Modernisation works water recovery

Long-term average annual water recovery (ML): 352,638.5

Low-reliability water share purchases

Long-term average annual water recovery (ML): 3,251.1

Campaspe Irrigation District closure water recovery

Long-term average annual water recovery (ML): 8,105.0

East Loddon stock and domestic water supply system

Long-term average annual water recovery (ML): 1,842.0

The closure of the Campaspe Irrigation District and the modernisation of the East Loddon stock and domestic water supply system were not audited in the 2020-21 GMW Connections Audit.

However, they are part of the GMW Connections Project. The water recovery for these projects has been estimated using water resource system modelling and audited through a separate process.

Swan Hill Modernisation Project

Long-term average annual water recovery (ML): 14,212.0

Includes water recovery associated with decommissioning Little Murray Weir (13,500 ML), reduction in evaporation losses from lowering Little Murray Weir Pool (486 ML) and reduced losses on the No. 9 Channel (226 ML). Water recovery was estimated using water resource system modelling and audited through a separate process.

The Swan Hill Modernisation Project also includes a component of water recovery that is included in the audit totals.

Greens Lake Water Savings Project

Long-term average annual water recovery (ML): 8,300.0

The Project was not audited in the 2020-21 GMW Connections Audit. The water recovery for this project was estimated using water resource system modelling and audited through a separate process.

Third Reedy Lake Bypass Project

Long-term average annual water recovery (ML): 2,340.2

The Project was not audited in the 2020-21 GMW Connections Audit. The water recovery for this project was estimated using water resource system modelling and audited through a separate process. The Third Reedy Lake Bypass Project also includes a water recovery component in the audit totals.

Estimated recovery from other projects

Long-term average annual water recovery (ML): 13,142.5

2021-22 Independent allocation audit

An allocation audit for water recovery achieved in 2021-22 from works completed in Stage 1 of the Connections Project was required to determine:

  • Water allocations for Melbourne retail water corporations’ entitlements for their contribution to the Connections Project.
  • The Victorian Environmental Water Holder mitigation water entitlements.

The allocation audit was completed by independent auditor Stantec Inc.

The allocation audit confirms that 102,609.6 ML of water was recovered by Stage 1 of the Connections Project in 2021-22.

This means 34,203.2 ML of water was issued to the Melbourne retail water corporations in equal portions for their share of the water recovery. In addition, 1,774.2 ML of water was issued to the Victorian Environmental Water Holder to support Mitigation Water entitlements.

The remainder of the water recovery supports allocations towards all entitlements held in the region, including water shares held by irrigators and environmental entitlements.

Page last updated: 07/02/24