Sample irrigation modernisation plan

This sample modernisation plan was produced for the Irrigation Modernisation Planning Assistance Program.

The Modernisation Plan

The purpose of this sample plan is to provide project proponents with an indication of the Department's expectations as to the content and structure of a modernisation plan. It is not intended to be exhaustive, but rather to illustrate the kinds of matters a modernisation plan should ideally cover.

The main point to note is that the reader should be able to draw from a modernisation plan a good understanding of an Irrigation Water Provider's district, system and the challenges and opportunities facing it in the light of the data and information gathered during the planning work and the potential for reduced future water availability. From this, the reader would be readily able to understand the rationale of the modernisation/reconfiguration options that are developed, analysed and ranked by the report.

1. Endorsement of the modernisation plan by the Board of Management

Endorsement of the modernisation plan by the board of management or its equivalent should be at the front of the plan. This would see the board endorsing that the options identified in the mod plan are feasible and acceptable to the board as a basis for the future direction of the organisation. However, it is important to note that it also leaves it to the board to make decisions on future investments in accordance with the statutory responsibilities of the Board members, or in line with any other legal/regulatory obligations devolving upon the organisation.

2. Executive summary

3. A description of the grantee's irrigation district

In reading this section of the Plan, the reader should be able to understand the landscape in which the proponent is working and provide context to appreciate the rationale for the modernisation plan. This section would cover natural resource characteristics of the irrigation region, such as soils, salinity, climate, rainfall, biodiversity; key environmental features, nature of the agronomic activities and trends within the region, including farm size, irrigation practices; customers; water extractions and use; water balance etc.

4. The Irrigation Water Provider (IWP)

This section will describe the proponent's management structure; work force and skills; legal/regulatory framework; water entitlements; financial data including revenues and sources, outlays on the system.

5. The IWP's irrigation system

This section will provide the reader with a description of the IWP's irrigation infrastructure and how it meets the current needs of its customers and other stakeholders. It would also cover how the delivery system developed over time, how it is configured, the quality, age and efficiency of the infrastructure including metering. How suitable is the current system (including water availability and entitlements) to the production of various types of crops/pastures as well as crops not traditionally grown in the area? An assessment of water losses and the findings of 'hot spots' assessment or equivalent should be included in this section. In brief, the reader should be able to derive an appreciation of the extent and efficiency of the IWP's irrigation infrastructure.

6. Consultations with customers and stakeholders

From reading this section the reader should be confident that the proponent's customers and stakeholders have had their concerns and views heard and understood, including their input on the future of the IWP and the range of modernising options before it to assist it adapt to the future. The report should describe the consultations undertaken and report upon the stakeholders' views and ideas. The consultations should cover all issues relevant to the region and its future including the preferences of irrigators/farmers based on scenarios of future water availability (such as winter vs summer irrigation for example; how do farmers see agronomic and irrigation practices developing in the district; do they have any plans/intentions regarding future farming practices and how to transition to these practices).

7. Challenges and issues

In reading this section, the reader should be able to come to a full appreciation of the current trends in the region in terms of agronomic and irrigation practices, as well as other short, medium and long-term factors. This would include the scope and impact of water trading both within and out of the district. The viability of agriculture based on various alternative water availability scenarios is an important consideration as well as the viability of any local or national processing or downstream industries dependent upon the district's output. Are there any other contingent factors that might have an impact, such as transport costs into and out of the region?

The chapter will outline the challenges facing the proponent and its irrigation region out to as far as a twenty year horizon. This might include the results of other studies carried out by the proponent but we would expect a full appraisal including results/findings of other studies of the system and district. The section should deal with the possibility of reduced future water availability; trends in agronomic and irrigation practices; non-farm development trends in the district which might generate competition for water in the future; and ability to meet new metering standards. It should also cover issues for the future of the IWP and the irrigation district/region that have been identified in the consultations with customers and stakeholders.

8. Options for the future

This section will set out in some detail the options available to the IWP identified for the IWP in the light of current trends within the IWP's district/region and the consultant's research and consultations. This would include such issues as improvements to the efficiency of infrastructure, systems and the management of water. It might also include options to respond to significant changes in agronomic practices in the district resulting from reduced water availability and other factors in the future. Changes to system infrastructure including rationalisation and reconfiguration should also be looked at.

9. Analysis and rankings of investment options

This section will provide the reader with an analysis of the options identified, in particular drawing together the social, economic, financial and technical aspects of the project options. In this context the analysis should include: technical feasibility; analysis of costs and benefits; identification of lasting water savings, nature of entitlements attached to water savings, timing of their availability and their costs in terms of the estimated investment requirements; identification of mechanisms and issues associated with the transfer of water savings, e.g. constitution, registers, fees; the contribution of the options to the long term financial viability of the IWP; and the capacity of the IWP to recoup costs through a transparent charging regime.

This chapter will also rank the options in terms of economic returns and capacity to address climate change. The ranking criteria should be explicitly identified as well as the relative weightings (where used) accorded to water volume/reliability/cost/community impact as well as any other issues identified. This chapter need not make specific recommendations to the IWP management and board as to the preferred option.

Last reviewed: 4 November 2019
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