Australia irrigation scheme to include two mini-hydro plants

Australia’s Tasmanian Irrigation Board has released details of the Midlands Water Scheme, its preferred option for delivering irrigation water to the Midlands Region of Australia’s Tasmania State. The project would include two mini-hydropower plants.

The board called for community comment through October 31 on the proposal to provide irrigation water to 78,000 hectares of farmland.

�We believe this option is a scalable and flexible proposal,� board Chief Executive Officer Jock Chudacek said. �It comprises three separate schemes, each using a different water source. The combined proposal will deliver 50,000 megaliters of water annually with a high degree of surety.�

The official said one scheme would not involve public money, while the other two would require a mix of public and private capital totaling A$74 million (US$49.1 million).

Chudacek said two mini-hydro plants would be incorporated in the construction of the A$61 million (US$40.5 million) southernmost scheme, Arthurs Lake Pipeline. Water to be drawn from Arthurs Lake is to be purchased from Hydro Tasmania for the price that would have been achieved if it were run through the utility’s 300-MW Poatina and 80-MW Trevallyn hydro projects.

The irrigation board said diverting the Arthurs Lake water through the Arthurs Lake Pipeline irrigation system and the mini-hydros would create greater economic value than if the water continued to be utilized by the two Hydro Tasmania projects.

The irrigation board said one mini-hydro plant would be built above the Isis River, generating 1,223 kWh per megaliter of water, while the other would be built above Tunbridge, generating 1,190 kWh per megaliter. At full capacity, the projects could generate 35,000 MWh per year.

Another scheme, the privately funded Macquarie Settlement Pipeline, would draw water from the Poatina hydro project’s reregulation pond. The A$13 million (US$8.6 million) South Esk Pipeline would extract winter flows from the South Esk River for storage at Winton Dam and other on-farm storage.

For information, contact Midlands Water Scheme Project, Project Manager, Department of Primary Industries and Water, Hobart, Tasmania 7001 Australia; (61) 03-62336661; E-mail: midlands.enquiries@dpiw.tas.gov.au; Internet: www.dipw.tas.gov.au.

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