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AUSTRALIAN SHOWCASE: MODERNISATION AND WATER MANAGEMENT EXPERIENCES in Iran Special Session on Australia at the 21st ICID Congress on Irrigation and Drainage

Friday 25 November, 2011
The Shepparton Irrigation Region was showcased recently on the international stage by several local irrigation industry members. The Goulburn Broken Catchment Management Authority (CMA) co-ordinated a team of water experts in putting together a special showcase around water management in Australia at the recent 21st International Congress on Irrigation and Drainage (ICID) held in the capital of Iran, Tehran.

The Shepparton Irrigation Region was showcased recently on the international stage by several local irrigation industry members. The Goulburn Broken Catchment Management Authority (CMA) co-ordinated a team of water experts in putting together a special showcase around water management in Australia at the recent 21st International Congress on Irrigation and Drainage (ICID) held in the capital of Iran, Tehran.

The Team in attendance included representatives from the Goulburn Broken CMA, Murray Darling Basin Authority (MDBA), Australian Government’s Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities (SEWPaC), the Victorian Government’s Department of Sustainability and Environment (DSE) and Department of Primary Industries (DPI) and more importantly four irrigators from the Shepparton Region.

Carl Walters and Helen Murdoch from the Goulburn Broken CMA coordinated the session that included a presentation on water management over recent times from the National, State, Regional and then Farm perspective. The focus was on irrigation modernisation and how it was being implemented within a partnership approach.

Willem Vlotman from the MDBA and also Irrigation Australia, along with Mary Harwood from SEWPaC, presented the national perspective around the water scarcity and changes we are seeing with the various water savings programs, the Basin Plan and the background behind what has motivated the significant changes in water management over the past few years in particular.

The local identities in attendance covered presentations around the development of the partnership approach that is particularly strong in the Victorian Irrigation community, and Brigette Keeble from DPI and Jane Ryan from DSE presented the process for change particularly around the development of the Northern Sustainable Water Strategy and how the regional partnership approach helped with the difficult conversations.

Carl Walters covered the physical aspects of modernisation, from Goulburn-Murray Water as the managers and owners of the system, NVIRP as the organisation responsible to implement the public infrastructure change, Rubicon from the technology development perspective, and finally the Goulburn Broken CMA in the role of alignment of irrigation with the best return for the region from a land and water management perspective as well as the physical aspects of rolling out the Farm Water Program and returning environmental flows to our precious waterways.

Helen Murdoch presented on the topic of understanding the drivers for change on farm and how the alignment with on-farm needs and the system modernisation is critical to success. Helen Reynolds, an irrigated cropping farmer, then presented her property as a real life example of dealing with change and the challenges and opportunities that they saw on their mixed farming enterprise.

The final session was an opportunity for the international community to put questions to all those in attendance around the changes happening and how it has been undertaken.

Questions were also fielded by the other three irrigators in attendance including , Kevin Minogue a dairy farmer from Katandra West, Stuart Murdoch an irrigated cropper for Undera, Bunbartha and Stephen Mills a dairy farmer from Numurkah.

Most importantly, for our region the attendance of the four irrigators and the practical discussions were warmly received, with the hierarchy of the ICID family providing a very welcoming environment.

“The trip to Iran was a once in a lifetime opportunity for most of us really” Mr Walters said “the session we put together was very well received and I was very proud of the efforts of all who attended and also those who helped put together the session but couldn’t attend. It actually was a great example of the partnership approach we were all talking about”.

“A particular highlight for me was that we were able to arrange the attendance by the four farmers as part of our group and to see how the international irrigation community were so excited to discuss water management issues with these end users; who knows what influence they may have had,” he added.

The end of the Conference was followed by a technical tour looking at irrigation systems in the Northern Mazandaran Province. To get there required a lengthy bus trip through or over the mountain ranges between Tehran and the Caspian Sea.

“This trip was a fabulous experience where we were warmly welcomed by the rural communities and irrigation authorities” Mr Walters said.

“Jane Ryan and I were also interviewed for Local Iranian Television on our thoughts on Iran and the northern region’s irrigation development, in particular. The return bus trip included passing along the famous Chalus Road over the mountains that really was a most amazing ride, much better than any roller coaster and the scenery was so impressive.”

For further information please contact:

Amanda McClaren, Communications and Marketing Manager

t: 03 5820 1117 m: 0459 023 640 e: amandam@gbcma.vic.gov.au