Engaging stakeholders for irrigation success in Australia’s food bowl

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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 Australia.

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.

 

Hanwood Modernisation Project

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