Digging new pipeline

Construction on the Mill Creek Dam as part of Tasmanian Irrigation’s Duck Irrigation Scheme is underway as project managers, engineerings, working group members and local farmers including (from left) Tegan Lovell, Mike Buckby, Danika Marshall, Marcus Laing, Nigel Veldhuis, Nic Broomhall and Ian Jaeche saw last week. Pictures: Ashleigh Force.

Agriculture. The $30 million Duck Irrigation Scheme is forecast to be operating by the 2018-19 irrigation season following the commencement of construction in April.

The Tasmanian Irrigation project will have the capacity to store 5200 megalitres of water from Duck River and Mill Creek during the winter months to distribute to irrigators throughout Circular Head in the dry seasons.

Water will be delivered by an underground high density polyethylene pipeline which will flow for more than 60 kilometres throughout the region, delivering water stores to scheme participants via pump stations at Edith Creek and Smithton.

Constructed by Shaw Contracting, the project has been in the pipeline for more than five years.

Tasmanian Irrigation project manager Ian Jaeche says more than seven kilometres of pipeline has already been laid and dam construction is “well underway”.

More than 30 irrigators will benefit from the project which crosses over 80 properties.

Mike Buckby, chairman of the Duck Irrigation Scheme Working Group, says there is a “high likelihood” local farmers will have the opportunity to join the scheme further down the track.

“It’s taken the best part of five years to get to this stage and next summer will see the fruition of those five years,” he says, adding he hopes to invite irrigators to the Mill Creek Dam site in the coming months for an inspection and progress update.

“This project adds value to existing businesses and secures employment within the region.

“The benefits of this scheme will provide surety to farmers who have spend hard earned and significant dollars on putting in crops. This will take away the worry of if they’ll have enough rain to sustain them in the dry months, peace of mind.”

Mr Buckby says this assurance will allow farmers to focus on diversification and management.

With a 5200 megalitre capacity, the dam will cover 70 hectares of surface area.

“It is by far the biggest dam to be built in this area and probably the biggest infrastructure project Circular Head has seen in a long time,” Mr Buckby says.

Smithton farmer Marcus Laing has called the dam an “engineering marvel”.

Admitting he was dubious of the project initially, he has now opted to buy an outlet tap for his 100 acre property allowing access of up to 80 megalitres when excess water goes out for tender.

“I had mixed thoughts to start with, a lot of people have tried to get an irrigation scheme off the ground before,” Mr Laing said.

“But not having to rely on your own storage . . . it will benefit the area and agriculture in Circular Head into the future.”

Works on the Edith Creek and Smithton pump stations is expected to commence early next month.

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