The GMW Connections Project – the largest irrigation modernisation project in Australian history - has completed works to achieve a long-term 429 gigalitres (GL) of water recovery.  The on-ground works to reach the target were completed in October 2020.

Each year the water savings are also required to be verified through an independent audit in accordance with the Water Savings Protocol. This does create a reporting time lag between what the project has achieved in water savings and what is reported as audited at the end of each financial year.

The most recent and penultimate audit of long-term water recovered is for works from 1 July 2019 to 30 June 2020.

The final works to achieve the 429 GL volume will be audited later this year and published in 2022.

The rolling audit process continues to provide confidence that water recovery is estimated correctly, which is the high standard needed for the Minister for Water to issue entitlements.

This page provides the outcomes from the 2019-20 audits. Outcomes from previous yearly audits show that the GMW Connections Project water recovery progressed as expected.

The audit confirms a cumulative long-term average annual water recovery for the GMW Connections Project to June 2020 of 416,748.1 megalitres (ML).

The audit did not include the works after June 30 up to October which was when the final part of the 429 GL was achieved.

Due to data requirements outlined in the Water Savings Protocol, the water recovery volume that can be verified includes all works commissioned to 30 June 2020.

The audit is important to ensure that the distribution of water recovery does not impact on existing entitlement holders.

Summary of GMW Connections Project water recovery

The verified cumulative long-term average annual water recovery for the GMW Connections Project to June 2020 is 416,748.1 ML. There will be another audit later this year to confirm water recovery achieved since 1 July 2020.

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

336,441.8

Low-reliability water share purchases

3,201.1

High-reliability water share purchases1

29,197.0

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

13,109.0

TOTAL WATER RECOVERY

416,748.1

1 Includes purchases and on-farm projects undertaken in early stages of the Project (not continued post Connections Reset in 2016) which still need to be included in annual audit calculations.

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 2019-20 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 2019-20 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 2019-20 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 Water recovery from special projects is assessed and updated through the year.

2019-20 Independent audit of water recovery

The twelfth independent audit of water recovery for Northern Victorian irrigation modernisation projects for the 2019-20 water year was undertaken between September and November 2020.

The audit covers irrigation modernisation works and water recovery for the GMW Connections Project and Reconfiguration Project.

This year's audits of water recovery were completed by an independent auditor (Cardno (Qld) Pty Ltd).

The audit confirmed that estimated water recovery was accurate and in line with the Water Savings Protocol and verified water purchases.

Click here to read the Audit of Irrigation Modernisation Water Recovery 2019-20 (PDF, 2.6 MB)

Click here to read the Audit of Water Entitlement Purchase 2019-20 (PDF, 857.3 KB)

Summary of audit findings

The following table summarises the water recovery achieved through irrigation modernisation works for the GMW Connections Project.

Project

Water recovery (ML)

For 2019-20

Long-term average annual water recovery

Total - GMW Connections Project

132,856.2

336,441.8

The GMW Connections Project has recovered 5,764.8 ML of low-reliability water shares (equivalent to a long-term average annual volume of 3,201.1 ML) and 30,428.3 ML of high-reliability water shares (equivalent to a long-term average annual volume of 29,197.0 ML).

The following tables outlines the reviewed and accepted volumes of entitlement purchases for the GMW Connections Project:

Project

Volume of low reliability water shares purchased (ML)

Long-term average annual from low reliability water shares (ML)1

Volume of high reliability water shares purchased (ML)

Long-term average annual from high reliability water shares (ML)

GMW Connections Project

5,699.5

3,163.1

10,151.9

9,829.7

Campaspe Irrigation District2

-

-

15,052.0

14,299.4

On-Farm Efficiency Program

-

-

4,397.4

4,264.0

Crown Shares

65.3

38.1

192.2

185.9

Reconfiguration Project3

-

-

634.8

618.0

Total Water Purchases – GMW Connections Project

5,764.8

3,201.1

30,428.3

29,197.0

1 Totals may not sum due to rounding.

2 Water shares recovered through the closure of the Campaspe Irrigation District were confirmed in the 2012-13 audit and reconfirmed in the 2018-19 audit.

3 Residual purchases made under the Reconfiguration Project have now been attributed to the GMW Connections Project.

The auditor made a number of comments and recommendations regarding systems and processes, the most important of these are:

  • GMW has accurately calculated water recovery in line with the Water Savings Protocol (PDF, 2.4 MB).
  • GMW data collection processes continue to be sufficiently robust and inputs are as accurate as could reasonably be expected for the purpose of calculating water recovery.
  • The auditor made two minor recommendations for the GMW Connections Project to consider: (1) reviewing the template for inspection test procedures to ensure there is a clear link between works completion and water recovery claims and (2) recommunicating a procedure for how to document the volume of water that flows through outfall structures with staff.
  • The audits did not identify any need to change the Water Savings Protocol.

Page last updated: 19/03/21