David Gilbert, Executive Manager, Planning at Murrumbidgee Irrigation Ltd will present at the Australian Regional Development Conference being held at the Commercial Club Albury on the 26– 27 August 2015.
The Conference is an initiative of the Association for Sustainability in Business Inc., a non-Government ‘not-for-profit’ organisation.
Presenter Introduction: Dave commenced in 2008 and was appointed as Executive Manager Planning in March 2014, responsible for corporate and water resource planning, asset management and regulatory compliance functions. He has previously been responsible for delivery of major capital infrastructure projects.
Dave is an electrical engineer who has held management roles in the electricity supply industry and also within the Australian public service that has included implementation of the National Electricity Market, administration of Australia’s export controls and defence-related research projects.
Presentation Title: Government policy challenges for rural water infrastructure service providers
Co-Author: Karen Hutchinson, Customer Services Manager, Murrumbidgee Irrigation Ltd
Overview: Government water policy objectives typically seek to optimise economic, social and environmental outcomes, including from the sustainable use of available water resources and the promotion of efficient investment in water delivery infrastructure.
In establishing irrigation areas like the Murrumbidgee Irrigation Area (MIA), which is located in located in the Murray-Darling Basin, the NSW Government undertook an enormous development effort that involved an entirely new agricultural enterprise for the state. This was supported by government efforts to divert the water resources of the Snowy Mountains as a means of supplementing the flow of the great inland rivers for irrigation to increase agricultural production and as a means for developing hydro-electric power.
Initial production within the MIA centred on horticulture, dairy and other pasture enterprises which led to the rapid expansion of the irrigation area into a diverse and highly productive agricultural region, rich in bird life and wetland habitats. The sustainability of the MIA, and other irrigation areas, is of local, state and national significance with the gross value of farm production, contributing to significant levels of regional value adding, and employment opportunities that underpin the regional community.
Government water reform efforts are focussed on the implementation of the Murray-Darling Basin Plan to respond to threats to ecosystem health and sustainability in the Basin. This includes irrigation modernisation, environmental works and measures, and water purchasing. Investment in infrastructure and irrigation efficiency projects is expected to assist irrigation communities adjust to a future of reduced water availability and become more resilient to change. However, evaluation and reporting on the effects of these water reforms on communities and the environment continues to mature before flow-on effects will become apparent and unintended consequences emerge.
A number of indicators of the social and economic impact of the Basin Plan have been used to identify how irrigation communities are adjusting to less water, including on agricultural production and other local industries, community health and wellbeing, and wider social and cultural impacts.
Communities across the Basin are coping with water reform efforts differently. This paper includes preliminary assessments of water reform impacts from investment in irrigation infrastructure across the MIA, including on the productive capacity of the region.
To view and/or download the Australian Regional Development Conference program, visit the website here.