GMW has requested to amend GMW’s Bulk Entitlement (River Murray – Goulburn-Murray Water) Conversion Order 1999 and Bulk Entitlement (Eildon – Goulburn Weir) Conversion Order 1995 under section 44 of the Water Act 1989.
The requested amendments reduce losses to support the issue of mitigation water environmental entitlements and revoke obligations to set aside temporary water savings from the GMW Connections Project for the Melbourne retail water corporations who were issued enduring entitlements in 2022. Additionally, the application from GMW applies to convert a 14.6 megalitre (ML) high-reliability Goulburn water share to bulk entitlement to provide for expansion water for the Mitiamo waterworks district, as this is an outstanding action required to support the Mitiamo pipeline project completed in 2021.
The application supports the request from the Victorian Environmental Water Holder (VEWH) to issue new environmental entitlements in the Goulburn and Murray systems for mitigation water in these systems to support the state and federal environmental approvals for the GMW Connections Project. For more information visit [Goulburn-Murray Water Connections Project Mitigation Water Environmental Entitlements ]
GMW applied to amend the Bulk Entitlement (River Murray – Goulburn-Murray Water) Conversion Order 1999 and Bulk Entitlement (Eildon – Goulburn Weir) Conversion Order 1995 to reduce losses to support the issue of mitigation water environmental entitlements and revoke obligations to set aside temporary water savings from the GMW Connections Project for the Melbourne retail water corporations who were issued enduring entitlements in 2022. Furthermore, the application from GMW seeks to convert a 14.6 ML high-reliability Goulburn water share to bulk entitlement to provide for growth water for the Mitiamo waterworks district.
More information about the application for an amendment
Q: What is a bulk entitlement?
A bulk entitlement is a legal right to water granted by the Minister for Water under Part 4, Division 1 of the Water Act 1989 (the Act).
Bulk entitlements are legal instruments mainly held by water corporations that set out how much water the holder is entitled to take to supply its customers and the conditions around taking that water.
Q. Why has GMW applied to amend the bulk entitlements?
The proposed amendments will reduce loss allowances outlined in the Eildon-Goulburn Weir and River Murray bulk entitlements so that the Minister for Water can issue new entitlements to the VEWH without impacting other entitlement holders’ rights or the rights of the environment. The amendments also revoke obligations to set aside temporary water savings from the GMW Connections Project for the Melbourne retail water corporations who were issued enduring entitlements in 2022. Furthermore, the application from GMW applies to convert a 14.6 ML high-reliability Goulburn water share to bulk entitlement to provide for growth water for the Mitiamo waterworks district.
If the Minister for Water didn’t amend the entitlements then issuing new entitlements to the VEWH would negatively impact on all other entitlement holders, and therefore wouldn’t be possible under the law. For more information about the request from the VEWH visit [Goulburn-Murray Water Connections Project Mitigation Water Environmental Entitlements].
Q. What is the GMW Connections Project?
The GMW Connections Project is Australia’s largest irrigation modernisation project and the most significant infrastructure upgrade in northern Victoria’s 100-year history. The Victorian and Australian governments funded the Connection Project to the tune of $2 billion.
The Connections Project delivered long-term 433 gigalitres (GL) of water recovery for farms in Northern Victoria, the environment and Traditional Owners. This water recovery is a key part of Victoria’s contribution to the Murray-Darling Basin Plan, contributing 10 percent (279 GL long term average annual yield (LTAAY) water savings) of the total water recovery required.
Before the Connections Project started, irrigation infrastructure in the region lost around 900 GL each year from leakage, seepage, evaporation and poor measurement.
Q. Why did the GMW Connections Project need to provide mitigation water to the environment?
Sometimes water in irrigation channels is discharged (‘outfalls’) into wetlands and rivers and provides an important environmental benefit. Improving the efficiency of the irrigation systems can reduce these ‘losses’. To sustain these environmental benefits and meet the state and federal environmental approvals the project needed to show how it would mitigate the impact of the roll out of the Connections Project on local sites with high environmental value.
The Connections Project prepared the Water Change Management Framework to describe how it would assess and mitigate the impacts and Environmental Watering Plans to determine the volume of water it needed to set aside at each site with high environmental values.
The Connections Project set aside mitigation water before it calculated its water recovery achievements. Find out more.
Q. How is water sourced to meet the new water entitlements?
The GMW Connections Project was contracted to deliver a minimum of 429 GL LTAAY. The Project was highly successful, delivering 433 GL LTAAY.
The water recovery volume being issued to the VEWH as mitigation water is accounted for before project achievements are calculated. That is water savings are the total (gross) volumes saved less the volume of water required to ensure no net impacts due to the project on sites of high environmental value (mitigation water).
To ensure the issue of new mitigation water environmental entitlements does not have an impact on entitlements in the Goulburn or Murray systems GMW has applied for complementary amendments to its loss provisions in line with audited works completed.
For further information on the GMW Connections project, please refer to Connections Project - Goulburn Murray Water (g-mwater.com.au).
Q. How can you issue new entitlements without impacting other entitlements?
New water entitlements in the Goulburn and Murray declared systems can only be issued where the new entitlement is supported by audited water savings, and the request is accompanied by a supporting application to reduce the loss provisions in GMW’s Goulburn and Murray bulk entitlements. GMW has made a supporting application, information about this application can be viewed here: [Goulburn-Murray Water Connections Project Mitigation Bulk Entitlement Amendments].
Q. What is the Water Saving Protocol and how can is it used to calculate water recovery?
All water savings from major irrigation modernisation projects in Victoria, including the GMW Connections Project, must be estimated and audited in accordance with the Water Savings Protocol. The Water Savings Protocol is the technical manual for how to estimate water savings. It reflects current best practice for the estimation of water savings and is updated periodically to reflect improvements in technology and any changes in the understanding of irrigation system losses. It also sets out roles and responsibilities and specifies the audit process.
Estimating water recovery using the methods in the Water Savings Protocol ensures that the estimate is calculated in a consistent and transparent manner using the most current scientific information. This means it can be used as evidence to issue water recovery as entitlements.
The audit process requires an independent auditor to verify that the water savings estimates have been estimated consistent with the methods described in the Water Savings Protocol. The audit process provides confidence that the water savings are being estimated correctly.
The 2020-21 water recovery audit of the GMW Connections Project can be viewed here: Independent Audit of Water Recovery – GMW Connections Project
The Minister for Water will consider the application from GMW, upholding the requirements of the Water Act 1989. Subject to the Minister for Water’s approval, the bulk entitlement amendment will come into effect when it is published in the Victoria Government Gazette.
More information and submissions
For more information on the applications call 136 186 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Minister will consider any comments received from the public on the application. Written comments can be emailed to email@example.com or mailed to:
Executive Director, Water Resources Strategy
Department of Energy, Environment and Climate Action
PO Box 500
East Melbourne VIC 3002
Page last updated: 01/05/23