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2.2.9 - What is my water supply?

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It is important to determine the amount of water available in terms of quantity and supply rate, BEFORE choosing an irrigation system.

Water entitlements - 'Unbundling'
In the Shepparton Irrigation Region, irrigation farms have an entitlement for water from the Goulburn-Murray Water (G-MW) (external link) channel system, or from regulated streams or drains or groundwater. Since July 1 2007, water entitlements from the channel system or regulated streams have been “unbundled”, and are now held as high and/or low reliability water shares, delivery shares and a water use licence for the property to be irrigated. Previously, entitlements were held as water rights and diversion licences, which could be allocated additional “sales” water when enough water was available.

An allocation, as a percentage of the entitlement, is announced at the start of each season, and progressively updated as water becomes available.

While 'unbundling' of water rights has little impact if you wish to continue operating the way you have been, there are important implications if you wish to trade water or otherwise change the way you receive your water. For more information consult G-MW (external link).
    Photo: 2.2.9a
    Dethridge meters have supplied farms for many generations
Water can be traded either permanently or temporarily. A permanent transfer of water involves transferring entitlement from someone else (usually by purchasing it) to your farm where it becomes part of your entitlement. Alternatively, you can sell all or part of your entitlement. Temporary transfer involves transferring water for use over one season only.

To determine the total water available for irrigation, consider all of your water sources, i.e. your high reliability and low reliability water shares, plus any extra water available to the farm such as groundwater or drainage diversion licence. Remember that allocations may be restricted. In extreme seasons such as 2006/07 and 2007/08, even your high reliability water share and groundwater volumes may not be fully available.

It is important to understand whether you will be able to get the required amount of water when you need it. You should discuss this with your rural water authority to confirm that the system can reliably supply the required flow rates at the times that you are likely to need it.

Unplanned delays to irrigation can be more serious for centre pivot irrigated crops because they are utilising a narrower soil moisture range than border-check irrigated crops. A storage can provide more flexibility to enable irrigation when required. You may have to consider this when choosing a system.

Reconfiguration and Modernisation
The irrigation community in northern Victoria is going through a process to determine which parts of the channel system will be retained in future, and how the remainder of the system can be modernised to provide a water supply capable of meeting future farm water requirements. There may be opportunities for farmers to make significant changes to the way they get their water. If you anticipate making changes to your farm system, check with G-MW to see what opportunities may be available.
    Photo: 2.2.9b
    Flume gates are one of the new
    generation of water meters
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