20 October 2016
Highlighting the link between effective stakeholder engagement
and project success, the Murrumbidgee Irrigation Area Renewal
Alliance (MIARA) has received a prestigious industry award for
setting new benchmarks for public participation on the Hanwood
Modernisation Project near Griffith in New South Wales.
MIARA, made up of Murrumbidgee Irrigation (MI), GHD, John
Holland Group and UGL, has been presented with the Core Values
Award 2016 from International Association for Public Participation
(IAP2) Australasia in the Infrastructure category.
The Hanwood Modernisation Project was one of the first
irrigation upgrades to be planned and delivered by MIARA. The
overall aim of the project was to improve the irrigation
infrastructure, increase agricultural productivity, create water
savings and ensure the future viability of the Murrumbidgee
Irrigation Area, which is known as the ‘food bowl’ of
The project was mostly funded by the Australian Government under
the Private Irrigation Infrastructure Operators Program, where
funding was provided to improve irrigation system efficiency in
exchange for water being returned to the environment.
More than 200 farmers, who are also the customers and
shareholders of MI, have properties within the Hanwood area and
were engaged throughout all stages of the project. Allen Rodwell,
GHD’s Service Line Leader for Stakeholder Engagement, says,
“Actively involving stakeholders from the start has enabled the
project to be completed on time and under budget because we were
able to minimise disruption to customers and identify opportunities
to reduce capital and maintenance costs.
“To successfully deliver this major upgrade, MIARA introduced a
new public participation process, with a multi-level approach,
including workshops, pre- and post-construction meetings,
one-on-one meetings and interactive design reviews.”
As a result, more than 90 percent of surveyed MI customers said
they were satisfied with the decision-making process and their
level of involvement. The stakeholder engagement process used for
Hanwood has set a ‘benchmark of excellence’ within MI and is being
used as a template for other projects.