Sharing new ideas to fix old problems

By Country News

A delegation of Iraqi senior officials have visited Shepparton in a bid to learn how to rebuild their ancient irrigation system.

The 10 officials were hosted by Goulburn-Murray Water and the Connections project and toured a number of sites that had been modernised using state-of-the-art technology.

Connections director Frank Fisseler said the visitors described Iraq’s 6000-year-old irrigation system.

‘‘Iraq now faces the major task of rebuilding their irrigation system, managing severe salinity problems and responding to significant water shortages caused by developments in neighbouring countries and climate change,’’ Mr Fisseler said.

The group was interested in Connections project successes such as Total Channel Control, replacing manual regulators with automated regulators, lining channels with plastic or geosynthetic clay and more accurate metering.

‘‘It was humbling to share our experiences with some of Iraq’s leading engineers and officials whose culture is based on thousands of years of irrigation,’’ Mr Fisseler said.

‘‘We shared our experiences managing a major project focused on water savings through reducing channel losses, building a world-leading water delivery system to boost irrigator productivity, helping communities thrive while also improving the environment.

‘‘With the Connections project now nearing completion, this state-of-the-art irrigation system that is the lifeblood of our agricultural sector is gaining attention on the world stage.

‘‘Just 10 years ago, the GMID’s (Goulburn Murray Irrigation District) irrigation system was in a state of disrepair losing water through leakage, seepage and evaporation.

‘‘It was at that time that a group of local leaders started seeking ways to modernise one of the region’s greatest assets.’’

The delegates spent three days in the Shepparton region, visiting several sites including Peter Hall’s orchard at Ardmona.

They also visited the Central Goulburn Channel No. 6 at Merrigum/Ardmona Rd, Merrigum where 3.5km of channel was remediated using HDPE to save 408Ml of water.