The PIIOP story

November 22, 2017

The Billabong Channel Offtake upgrade was completed in August 2017.

Murray Irrigation’s Private Irrigation Infrastructure Operators Program (PIIOP) spans the company’s entire footprint and involves the upgrade of more than 3,400 structures comprising 2,100 outlets and 1,300 regulators.

The project received $169.2 million from the Australian Government as part of its funding commitment to the PIIOP Round 2 initiative.

These once-in-a-generation modernisation works were started in 2013 and will be commissioned by Murray Irrigation in the coming weeks.

Murray Irrigation’s PIIOP Round 2 project has been without doubt, one of the greatest investments made in the development and implementation of agricultural technology to date in this region. 
Participation in the program will provide the company’s customers with an irrigation supply network that will support a range of on-farm technologies being introduced by early adopter farmers and which will become mainstream.
Underpinned by a massive $169.2 million in Australian Government funding, and backed up with $33.7 million from Murray Irrigation, the $206.3 million project has taken since 2013 to be completed.
Through sub-system retirements and reconfigurations, over 180km of channels were decommissioned, many farmers took advantage of the opportunity to sell water to the government — a business decision farmers made.
In exchange for this funding, the company transferred about four percent of its conveyance licence to the government for use in the environment, as well as around three per cent general security entitlements. 
More than 400 contractors and part time workers benefited from the scope of works and scores of opportunities opened up for businesses to expand, and careers to be either kick-started or established. The construction has seen the introduction of drones, computer modelling, and telemetry never before seen in this region. What has happened here will likely eclipse any infrastructure investment well into the future. 
Handing over the project from Executive General Manager Major Engineering Projects, Warren Jose, to Murray Irrigation’s Executive General Manager Water Delivery, Scott Barlow, to implement the new infrastructure is akin to taking over the controls of a packed A380 airliner on final approach to land at an unfamiliar airport, according to Murray Irrigation CEO, Michael Renehan. 
‘‘The last three months in particular has seen an unwavering, undistracted focus on delivering this project,’’ he said. 
‘‘In the coming months it’s inevitable that there will be minor problems that arise from introducing a new system. It’s rare if not impossible for a project of this magnitude to be commissioned without incident but everyone is determined to keep such occurrences to a minimum.’’

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