Joint media release: Connections Project to deliver 429 gigalitres in water savings

27 October 2020

Minister for Resources, Water and Northern Australia, The Hon Keith Pitt MP
Victorian Minister for the Coordination of Environment, Land, Water and Planning - COVID 19, Minister for Police and Emergency Services and Minister for Water, The Hon Lisa Neville MP

The largest irrigation modernisation project in Australia’s history is now officially complete, with the Australian and Victorian governments announcing the $2 billion Goulburn-Murray Water Connections Project will deliver 429 gigalitres in water savings.

Federal Minister for Resources, Water and Northern Australia, Keith Pitt, and Victorian Minister for Water, Lisa Neville, said this world-leading irrigation system in Northern Victoria will boost irrigator productivity, help communities and foster healthy waterways.

“This $953 million Australian Government investment is one of the most significant infrastructure projects ever undertaken in this country when it comes to delivering water savings and benefits for farmers, communities and the environment,” Minister Pitt said.

“The modernisation of the irrigation system means more than 7600 irrigators have consistent flow rates, modernised channels and pipelines which improves water efficiency and supports high value crops.

“Reaching the water savings target of 429 gigalitres is crucial to ensure improvements to river health both in Victoria and in the wider Murray Darling Basin without reducing the volume of productive water available in the district.

“This is the aim of all of our efficiency measures projects, to increase productive water while helping the environmental health of the Murray Darling Basin – as a healthy Basin is in everyone’s best interests now and for future generations. 

“The Australian Government looks forward to working with Victoria on further projects to reduce the loss of water and improve the productive capabilities of the irrigated agriculture sector.”

A reset of the Connections Project by Minister Neville in 2016 got the project back on track by bringing a new focus to working with locals to get the best solutions for irrigators in the Goulburn Murray Irrigation District.

Minister Neville said since the reset more than 800 local jobs have been created annually resulting in an annual increase of the regional GDP of around $170 million.

 “The Connections Project is a huge part of Victoria’s strong track record in delivering environmental outcomes under the Basin Plan in a way that protects irrigators from the negative impacts of buybacks,” Minister Neville said.

 “This is about building a legacy for future generations – saving water for the environment, creating rural jobs and supporting long-term productivity for irrigators in the face of climate change.” 

 “It hasn’t always been easy – we’ve had significant hurdles to overcome along the way – but we reset the project, stayed the course and have already begun to see the benefits for both irrigators and the environment.”

 “The Connections Project is a great model for how we can achieve positive social, economic and environmental results through major investment in water infrastructure.”