Changes in production systems and crop types and the expansion of diversion irrigation have increased water delivery requirements in the Lower Murray Water (LMW) districts.

Delivery share sets a minimum rate of water delivery that LMW provides over a 7-day period.

The Delivery Share Review set four outcomes to address community concerns about delivery share and increase growers’ confidence that they can access their water when they need it.

  1. Facilitate markets, products and trade in delivery share
  2. Improve tools for managing system operation and deliverability constraints
  3. Improve information, communication and transparency on delivery share
  4. Strengthen and clarify overarching principles for delivery share and termination fees.

The review proposed 12 actions to deliver on these outcomes.

Implementing outcomes in Sunraysia

All 12 actions have either been completed or included in LMW’s business operations, in meaningful steps to support the four outcomes set by the review:

  • Three outcomes are designed to work in combination to produce the best delivery capacity and system operation, including exploring new approaches to managing demand peaks and supporting changing customer needs.
  • One outcome to make sure delivery costs, pricing and investment are managed transparently and effectively, supported by up-to-date information on water ownership and use.

Full information on each action put forward for the LMW districts is in the Lower Murray Water irrigation districts summary table.

Progress on 12 actions

  • 8 actions are fully completed and closed out
  • 2 actions are now embedded into ongoing business practices

2 actions are continuing, following well-established project plans

More detail about major achievements and highlights includes a case study on outcome 2. This trialled an approach to managing water delivery fairly and transparently when demand exceeded system capacity.

Facilitate markets, products and trade in delivery share

Many areas are already operating at maximum capacity and LMW continues to work with customer representatives to explore using system capacity as efficiently as possible across all seasons.

Action 1.2 has been integrated into LMW’s irrigation strategy as part of work responding to changes in crop types, production systems and water demands.

LMW has extended this work beyond the Delivery Share Review. It is linking with state-wide projects and initiatives investigating how to better manage capacity constraints and support growers as they respond to new opportunities and market conditions.

Improve tools for managing system operation and deliverability constraints

The development and trial of set operating processes to manage constraints under action 2.1 has had conclusive success, as detailed in the LMW case study: trial of a capacity-sharing tool .

LMW has worked closely with customer representatives and built support for more active management of water delivery capacity that uses delivery share to manage system access. This has taken advantage of the original intent of delivery share as a tool for managing system operation.

Collaborating to innovate

LMW has worked closely with irrigators to find new approaches to managing system constraints and changing water requirements.

This work involves

  • developing solutions to managing risks
  • exploring potential new water delivery approaches and opportunities.

Establishing a dedicated customer reference group has been essential for success in designing and carrying out the review’s actions.  The more challenging of these include considering seasonal delivery opportunities and sharing system capacity fairly in peak demand periods.

Improve information, communication and transparency on delivery share

The Delivery Share Review consultation found that irrigators generally were not familiar with how delivery share worked as an entitlement, or its value in providing secure access to a minimum rate of water delivery.

The most significant step in giving customers meaningful information was the development of spatial information and tools. These show the capacity of LMW’s channels and pipelines, the delivery share on issue, and where water access is available or already constrained.

Steps taken under actions 3.1 and 3.2 mean this information can now be provided to irrigators when they ask for it. There are programs in place to make this information more readily accessible and it is now part of LMW’s information technology strategy.

Strengthen and clarify overarching principles for delivery share and termination fees

In closing out actions 4.1, 4.2 and 4.3, LMW now has processes to make sure that asset management, pricing and termination decisions are made fairly and transparently, based on current information.

These actions have increased customer confidence in LMW’s pricing structures. They also assure the Victorian Government that pricing and asset management decisions are well informed and made using transparent and repeatable processes.

LMW case study: trial of a capacity-sharing tool

Managing peak water demand using delivery share

Finding a better way to manage access to shared water delivery infrastructure when peak demand exceeds the physical capacity of channels and pipes to supply water was a major outcome of the Delivery Share Review for LMW’s Sunraysia districts.

Action 2.1 called for LMW to work with its customers to consider how to fairly share and manage access for growers in these demand peaks.

LMW has successfully designed and trialled a capacity-sharing tool that lines up a customer’s delivery share with the maximum capacity of the infrastructure supplying the customer.

This sets a minimum flow rate for each customer when demand reaches or exceeds the channel’s maximum capacity. Sharing the channel capacity in line with how much delivery share each customer holds means that – as a minimum – all customers can access water at a confirmed rate.

How the tool works:

  1. LMW allocates a water delivery rate for each customer’s outlets, based on their delivery share
  2. Rules for LMW’s water ordering system cap the volume of water that a customer can order within a 7-day period, in line with this rate.
  3. Once all orders are confirmed for the 7-day period, any remaining capacity in the system is made available to all customers
  4. The release of any un-ordered capacity in the final 48 hours of the ordering period allows irrigators to exceed their delivery share without reducing other irrigators’ access to water.

An initial trial run during the 2020-21 irrigation season with 58 active irrigators on an over-committed channel spur in the Red Cliffs district proved effective. All irrigators on the spur could take water at the rate set by their delivery share entitlement throughout the trial period.

Customer feedback confirmed the tool provided better water availability over the season to all users compared with the previous approach, and it reduced or eliminated water access issues.

LMW has expanded the trial over the 2021-22 irrigation season to cover 180 active customers. It will use a targeted approach to roll out the tool to customers over upcoming seasons.

Clear and transparent rules for sharing channel capacity give irrigators confidence about how much water they can access and enable LMW to manage the delivery system more effectively.

LMW’s capacity-sharing tool helps to manage water access when demand is close to or exceeds the delivery capacity of the irrigation infrastructure.

Page last updated: 31/08/22