The Hon. Barnaby Joyce MP, Deputy Prime Minister & Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, and The Hon. Sussan Ley MP, Minister for Health and Aged Care have announced the allocation of an additional $25 million for on-farm water infrastructure projects across New South Wales.
The announcement follows reported “high levels of interest” in the federal government’s Private Irrigation Infrastructure Operators Program (PIIOP-NSW), three rounds of which have already helped improve water delivery infrastructure on 348 farms statewide.
Irrigators in the Murrumbidgee Irrigation Area will benefit from an additional $25 million for on-farm water infrastructure projects following strong demand for the program, which is already delivering upgrades to irrigators across NSW.
Minister Joyce, Ms Ley and NSW Minister for Lands and Water Niall Blair welcomed the ongoing interest and said the extra funds would enable more irrigators to take advantage of the program to modernise their water-delivery systems and equipment.
“I’m glad to see the success of the on-farm component of this program,” Minister Joyce said. “To date more than 100 irrigators in the Murrumbidgee Irrigation Area are sharing in more than $15 million for on-farm infrastructure upgrades.
“The Coalition Government is prioritising investment in infrastructure, through programs like PIIOP, over water buy-backs to implement the Murray-Darling Basin Plan," he said.
"This work is complemented by our broader investment in water infrastructure at a national level, including through the $2 billion National Water Infrastructure Loan Facility and the $500 million National Water Infrastructure Development Fund.”
Boosting water-use efficiency and productivity
Since September 2013, the Coalition Government has spent a total of around $1.5 billion nationally on water infrastructure modernisation and efficiency improvements, Minister Joyce said.
Currently, PIIOP-NSW is providing $893 million in funding for 14 projects designed to boost water-use efficiency and productivity and improve private irrigation network management across the state.
Three rounds of the program to date have provided funding for:
- around 806 kilometres of new and refurbished water-delivery channels;
- 1,044 kilometres of stock and domestic pipeline, supplying water to 227 farmers;
- 8,694 new water meters, control points and channel infrastructure; and
- improved water delivery infrastructure on 348 farms across NSW.
“More modern, efficient and controllable infrastructure delivers tangible benefits to the farmer – like greater flexibility in crop choice, increased yields and the ability to produce a larger crop from lower water allocations,” Minister Joyce said.
Upgrades to irrigation schemes on NSW farms currently being funded under the Plan result in a net increase in water available for productive use, by reducing losses through seepage or evaporation, noted Ms Ley.
“Projects like this not only strengthen water security but also benefit the community and help boost the local economy through the use of local resources and suppliers,” she said.
“Best of all, this additional funding will enable more efficient, controlled water delivery – supporting increased crop production for farmers across the network.”
“We have a sophisticated and efficient irrigated agriculture sector in NSW,” Mr Blair contended. “This additional funding allows our farmers to continue to stay ahead of the pack, using smarter irrigation systems and maximising yield with less water.”
A healthier future for the Murray-Darling Basin
Modern, efficient water infrastructure is key to securing a healthy, productive future for the Basin and to the communities, ecosystems and industries that depend upon this vital resource, Minister Joyce said.
“This is why, through the Murray-Darling Basin Plan, we are making available more than $8 billion for water infrastructure upgrades – to help ensure farm businesses across the Basin are resilient, productive and sustainable for many generations to come,” he said.
This represents almost two-thirds of the $13 billion in government funding for the Murray-Darling Basin Plan.