Irrigators in the Murray Darling system in New South Wales are being offered a subsidy to undertake a water use efficiency assessment in order to discover how much water they could potentially save through changes to infrastructure and technology.

Irrigators can apply to the Sustaining the Basin Irrigated Farm Modernisation (STBIFM) program for reimbursement of up to 80 per cent (to a maximum of $2,000) of their out of pocket expenses associated with preparing an Irrigated Farm Water Use Efficiency Assessment or IFWUEA.

STBIFM Project Officer, Peter Verwey, has worked with many farmers who have undertaken a water use efficiency assessment and he believes the process can provide extremely valuable information.

“An IFWUEA can identify where on-farm irrigation water losses are occurring and determine the extent of those losses,” Mr Verwey said.

“By assessing the potential water losses, an IFWUEA also helps to identify the scope for improvement in irrigation performance through upgrading equipment and infrastructure.

“Irrigators are often surprised by how much water is lost through infrastructure issues such as leakage and evaporation in channels and storages.

“Significant amounts of water can be saved through lasering existing layouts to improve performance, converting to an alternative system, putting in technology to monitor and manage their system or through modifying their storage.

“The IFWUEA funding helps pay for an expert irrigation consultant to review all aspects of the system and suggest options for reducing water losses and getting more production out of your water entitlements.”

IFWUEA grants are available to irrigators with eligible entitlements in the NSW Border Rivers, Gwydir, Namoi-Peel, Macquarie-Cudgegong and Barwon-Darling water management areas.

IFWUEA grants will be on offer throughout 2017 or until funds are exhausted.

A broad range of irrigation training courses are also offered through the STBIFM program with subsidies available for eligible irrigators.

The STBIFM program has already delivered 85 training and development events across NSW attended by 895 participants. These events ensure irrigators can make informed investment decisions about infrastructure improvements and have the knowledge and skills to operate and maintain systems to maximize water use efficiency.

The Australian Government has committed up to $111 million for the STIBFM program. The program is funded through the Sustainable Rural Water Use and Infrastructure Program as part of the implementation of the Murray-Darling Basin Plan and is delivered by the NSW Department of Primary Industries. 

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