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

Each year water recovered is verified through an independent audit in accordance with the Water Savings Protocol. The final audit of long-term water recovered is for works and purchases from 1 July 2020 to 30 June 2021. The audit confirmed the final cumulative long-term average annual water recovery from the GMW Connections Project is 433,046.3 megalitres (ML).

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

The 2020-21 water recovery audit is the final audit of long-term water recovery from the GMW Connections Project. There will be an additional allocation audit for water recovery achieved from works in place in the 2021-22 water year.

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 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 volume of water recovered from other special projects.

2020-21 Independent audit of water recovery

The thirteenth independent audit of irrigation modernisation and entitlement purchases water recovery for the GMW Connections Project  for the 2020-21 water year was undertaken between September and November 2021.

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 (Version 5) and verified water purchases.

Read the audit reports

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

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

Summary of 2020-21 audit findings

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

Project

Water recovery (ML)

For 2020-21

Long-term average annual water recovery

Total - GMW Connections Project

192,781.1

352,638.5

The GMW Connections Project has recovered 5,779.2 ML of low-reliability water shares (equivalent to a long-term average annual volume of 3,251.1 ML) and 30,460.1 ML of high-reliability water shares (equivalent to a long-term average annual volume of 29,215.0 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

5779.23

3251.1

15,408.1

14,915.6

Campaspe Irrigation District2

-

-

15,052.0

14,299.4

On-Farm Efficiency Program

-

-

4,397.4

4,264.0

Total Water Purchases – GMW Connections Project

5,779.2

3,251.1

30,460.1

29,215.0

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.

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 three 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, (2) monitoring compliance with the procedure for how to document the volume of water that flows through outfall structures and (3) recommunicating the process of documenting evidence of works completion to contractors and sub-contractors.
  • The audits did not identify any need to change the Water Savings Protocol.

Page last updated: 25/02/22