The IHS (Integrated Horticultural Supply) project involves replacement of channels with pipes in the horticultural zones of the Murrumbidgee Irrigation area. In times of drought and climate change, this extensive project could not be more important.
As the twenty or so existing gravity supply systems reach the end of their service life, it is more cost effective to replace them with buried plastic pipe than with concrete lined channels. Whilst there would be some leakage losses stopped by either of these options, the greatest gains in water efficiency from this project comes from improved on-farm practices.
Like similar projects elsewhere growers take up the opportunity to convert from flood irrigation to micro irrigation when the IHS scheme arrives. Many have already upgraded, and most will find the upgrade expensive. But everyone agrees every effort must be made to save water and ease the pain from severe water restrictions.
After winning the second round of tenders, HydroPlan provided independent design and contract documentation services to Murrumbidgee Irrigation Limited - Australia's largest private water supplier. The first three projects involved pump stations with combined capacity over 2000 L/s and heads over 120m due to hilly terrain. Subsequent contract extensions for many more totalling around 5,000 ha.
The grower outlets are monitored in real time and can be closed off by remote control when required. Water is delivered under sufficient pressure to avoid re-pumping. Centralised power costs are low, and minimised further by smart pumping controls.