Pipe woes attracting scrutiny

Faulty pipes attract MDBA attention


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The Murray Darling Basin Authority (MDBA) has begun investigations into problems with substandard design and pipe quality, in the Cohuna area.

The Murray Darling Basin Authority (MDBA) will look at substandard design and irrigation pipe quality, in the Cohuna area, as part of its evaluation of the implementation of the Murray Darling Basin plan.

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Senior MDBA analyst Phillip Townsend visited the property of Jodie and Colin Hay, who said the system on their property had been plagued with problems, soon after it was installed. Ms Hay said Mr Townsend had inquired about farmers’ experiences with the modernisation project.

“He informed us they had no information regarding the failures of many of these systems,” Ms Hay said.

An MDBA spokeswoman said Mr Townsend was in the Cohuna area to collect information to feed into the 2017 evaluation of Basin Plan implementation.

“The valuable information shared by landholders is an important part of the evaluation and will assist the way future programs are designed by Basin states and the Commonwealth,” the spokeswoman said. “The information gathered by the MDBA, including feedback from irrigators, is being shared with other agencies, including those who manage the infrastructure programs at state and federal level.”

IRRIGATOR WOES: Phillip Townsend, a senior Murray Darling Basin Authority (MDBA) analyst has visited one of the affected farms.

IRRIGATOR WOES: Phillip Townsend, a senior Murray Darling Basin Authority (MDBA) analyst has visited one of the affected farms.

Dairy farmer Pat Quinn, Macorna, who has 600 cows on 1250 hectares, said he irrigated about 800ha but some of the pipe he had installed was “disastrous.

“The program we went into was brilliant – but we have this downside where we got mixed up with crook pipe,” Mr Quinn said. 

“We wanted to build a Rolls Royce and finished up with a 1970 Commodore,” Mr Quinn said.

He said he and his son Gregory, had been fixing the broken pipes himself, to save money. He said the faulty pipe had zero tolerance to negative pressure – “if it sucked in, even by a few millimetres, it just cracked.”

Steve Hore, Leitchville, said there was no warranty and no comeback for the faulty piping. “It is a real financial burden,” Mr Hore said. His property had a kilometre of faulty pipe. 

“We have talked to GMW and they have explored all the avenues that it wasn’t installed right,” Mr Hore said.  “Everyone is passing the buck. I know - on our farm - it was installed okay. We did everything right, it was done to design.”

Everyone is passing the buck. I know - on our farm - it was installed okay. We did everything right, it was done to design. - Steve Hore, Elmar Holsteins

A GMW spokeswoman said the organisation was aware of some farmers who were having issues with private pipe and riser systems. 

“These private pipe and riser systems were installed as a result of direct funding from the Northern Victorian Irrigation Renewal Project (NVIRP) and in some cases as part of the On-farm Efficiency Program,” the spokeswoman said.

“While NVIRP provided funding for materials purchase and installation of these systems, the detailed design, management and procurement of these systems was left to the discretion of each landowner. “The responsibility for rectification in each instance will depend upon the procurement and construction arrangements decided by each landowner.”

The spokeswoman said GMW was always open to considering complaints and concerns and would provide support, where appropriate. “In those cases where it has been contacted, GMW has taken steps to investigate this issue thoroughly and has provided a clear response to each individual landowner. 

“However, a failure in the installation of private systems is a matter more appropriately addressed between each landowner and their individual contractors or suppliers.” 

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