The Goulburn-Murray Water (GMW) Connections Project – the largest irrigation modernisation project in Australian history – has completed its works and measures to achieve a long-term water recovery of 433 gigalitres (GL) exceeding the long-term target of 429 GL by 4 GL. The on-ground works to reach the target were completed in October 2020. Find out more: Successful Connections Project Delivers Extra Water

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

The audit process and the Protocol provides confidence that water recovery is estimated correctly, which is the high standard needed for the Minister for Water to issue water entitlements. The audit process also ensures that the distribution of water recovery does not adversely impact existing water entitlement holders and the environment.

The final audit of long-term water recovery achieved by the Connections Project is for works and purchases 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 thirteenth and final independent audit of long-term water recovery from the GMW Connections Project. The audit was completed by independent auditor Cardno (Qld) Pty Ltd (now Stantec (Qld) Pty Ltd) and the audit reports can be found here:

Audit of Irrigation Modernisation Water Recovery 2020-21 (PDF, 6.5 MB)

Audit of Water Entitlement Purchase 2020-21 (PDF, 577.6 KB)

Details of the long-term water recovery achieved by the Connections Project is summarised below and further summary details including the audit attestation can be found here.

Summary of GMW Connections Project water recovery

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

The project and water recovery elements are as follows:

GMW CONNECTIONS PROJECT WATER RECOVERY ELEMENT

LONG-TERM AVERAGE ANNUAL WATER RECOVERY (ML)

Modernisation works water recovery

352,638.5

Low-reliability water share purchases

3,251.1

High-reliability water share purchases1

29,215.0

Campaspe Irrigation District closure water recovery2

8,105.0

East Loddon stock and domestic water supply system2

1,842.0

Swan Hill Modernisation Project3

14,212.0

Greens Lake Water Savings Project4

8,300.0

Third Reedy Lake Bypass Project5

2,340.2

Estimated recovery from other projects6

13,142.5

TOTAL WATER RECOVERY

433,046.3

1 Includes water share purchases and on-farm projects undertaken in early stages of the GMW Connections Project (not continued post GMW Connections Project Reset in 2016) which still need to be included in annual audit calculations. Includes water shares transferred or surrendered to meet beneficiary distribution commitments.

2 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.

3 Swan Hill Modernisation Project 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 has been 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.

4 The Greens Lake Water Savings Project was not audited in the 2020-21 GMW Connections Audit. However, it is part of the GMW Connections Project. The water recovery for this project was estimated using water resource system modelling and audited through a separate process.

5 The Third Reedy Lake Bypass Project was not audited in the 2020-21 GMW Connections Audit. However, it is part of the GMW Connections Project. 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 component of water recovery that is included in the audit totals.

6 Confirmed water recovery from other special projects.

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, and for Victorian Environmental Water Holder mitigation water entitlements.

The allocation audit was completed by independent auditor Stantec Inc and the audit report can be found in the 2021-22 Independent Connections Project Audit Report (PDF, 1.3 MB)

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

This means 34,203.2 megalitres of water will be issued to the Melbourne retail water corporations in equal portions for their share of the water recovery. In addition, 1,774.2 megalitres of water will be 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: 19/05/23