case study

David McKenzie

David McKenzie doesn’t shy away from talking about our region’s challenges. “I believe that the GMID is assured of a lower water future. Through ongoing Basin Plan recoveries, downstream trade impacts and reduced stream inflows due to changing climate patterns filling our storages less frequently - we will all have to continue to do more, with less," he says. “Efficiency will be the greatest friend the GMID can have, when we face future challenges.”

“If not for the Connections Project, the GMID system would be very poorly prepared to confront these future challenges,” David McKenzie.

This is why the Project is so important. It's for our region

“If not for the Connections Project, the GMID system would be very poorly prepared to confront these future challenges,” David says.

“We’d be ill-equipped to take advantage of the opportunities now unfolding through enhanced market access through free trade agreements and which will continue to provide new opportunities for irrigators across all commodities over time.”

David is the co-chair of the GMID Water Leadership Group, a collective formed to provide a strong voice for water security in the region.

He has a passion for improving and advocating for regional communities and has recently been appointed chair of the Goulburn Regional Partnership and the Regional Development Advisory Committee.

As a valuer specialising in agricultural property and water entitlements, he also understands the impact water has on farmers in our region and says it’s why the Connections Project is vital.

“Reflecting on the journey of the $2 billion modernisation program there have clearly been some significant challenges,” David said.

“In retrospect, this should not be surprising, as the ambition of the Project, the complexity of the implementation and the engagement required with all stakeholders was of a nature and scale that was unprecedented.”

From drought and hardship to opportunity and growth

The Project started during the crippling Millennium drought. It was a time of significant hardship for the region – and one David remembers well.

“Our local economy had been winding down for several years due to the prolonged dry spell, and in 2008/09, local irrigators received less than 40 per cent of their entitlements,” he said.

“While the resource situation subsequently recovered, the economic injection provided by the commencement of works associated with the $2 billion project budget certainly made a massive impact on sustaining many local businesses at a time of near-crisis.”

The Project is a significant contributor to job creation and investment in our region. It creates hundreds of jobs for local contractors, designers, manufacturers and other water related industries.

Ensuring our region's future

Ensuring the future of farming businesses ensures the future of our communities, which were built on region’s agricultural prosperity.

“At its core, the project was about bringing the GMID into the 21st century by installing modern infrastructure, establishing a strategic view of where the future of irrigation lay, minimising water losses and wasteful practice and consequently recovering water for the environment, thus making a major contribution to Victoria’s obligations under the Murray Darling Basin Plan,” David said.

He says it should never be forgotten that without Connections, Victoria would had to find other ways of recovering a significant volume of water to meet its Murray Darling Basin Plan obligations.

“There would have been a major risk that at least some of that water would have come from the consumptive pool, thus reducing the amount of productive water in the system for food production,” David said.

“We know that our region already cannot afford to lose any more productive water, and it is clear that without the wins from the modernisation project, our situation would already be much worse.”

 

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