Connections is completed

The largest irrigation project in Australia's history is now complete

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MISSION ACCOMPLISHED: Water Minister Lisa Neville has declared the Connections Irrigation project complete.

MISSION ACCOMPLISHED: Water Minister Lisa Neville has declared the Connections Irrigation project complete.

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State government declares Connections Irrigation project complete.

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The Connections Project, the largest irrigation modernisation project in Australian history, is now complete.

Victorian Water minister Lisa Neville said the project had delivered 429 gigalitres of annual water savings for environmental use and on farms in Northern Victoria.

She said the $2.2 billion project, funded by the Victorian and commonwealth governments, will support the sustainable future of productive agriculture in the Goulburn-Murray Irrigation District for generations to come.

"The Connections Project is 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," Ms Neville said.

"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."

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It was reset in March 2016, after concerns it would not meet its original targets.

But the completion of Connections comes at a time when questions are being asked about the actual water savings, from the project.

The GMID, which runs from Swan Hill to Cobram, covers about 90 per cent of all Victoria's irrigators.

Connections grew out of the Northern Victorian Irrigation Renewal Project, set up in 2008 before it was integrated into G-MW, and the current project, in 2011.

Ahead of the conclusion of Connections, G-MW releases usage figures

Ms Neville said Connections provided significant water savings, through targeting systems losses, to meet Victoria's obligations under the Murray Darling Basin Plan, without removal of water entitlements from farmers.

The complex project successfully balanced considerations of the environment, cultural heritage, community, irrigators and a range of individual infrastructure delivery solutions - resulting in a boost to productivity which will see provide greater efficiency and flexibility for irrigators.

The project reduced losses to evaporation and leakage by decommissioning over 1,700 kms of channel that were not used efficiently and upgrading over 300 kms of channels,by building pipelines and installing new meters.

Delivered by the Connections Project Control Group and Goulburn Murray Water, it has generated more than 800 local jobs have been created annually resulting in an annual increase of the regional GDP of around $170 million.

The modernisation of the irrigation system means over 7,600 irrigators have consistent flow rates, modernised channels and pipelines which improves water efficiency and supporting high value crops.

Under the project's funding agreement long-term annual water savings of 429 gigalitres will be shared between GMID irrigators, Melbourne's water retailers and the environment.

The irrigators' share of water has been prioritised and fast-tracked to ensure water savings are in the hands of local farmers as soon as possible.

The Melbourne water retailers' share has remained in the north for use by irrigators.

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