Sam Birrell has a long history in agriculture. He grew up on a local irrigated property, studied agricultural and later worked in agronomy – specifically in the field of smart water management. As Committee for Greater Shepparton CEO his role is now to advocate for our region. The committee has united business and community leaders to stand strong on issues – strengthening our economy and making our region a more vibrant place to live. One of the key issues – probably the region’s most important issue – is security of water for irrigation.
“Everything is about irrigation and the delivery of that resource is critical to our region. The reliability of it, the ease of which people can access it – all of those things can make or break those farms. In a nutshell, we have to have a really efficient delivery system."
“Irrigated agriculture underpins everything in our region so the delivery of that resource is critical,” Sam said.
“Without irrigation, we are just a bunch of reasonably productive but small wheat farms – so we would end up like a small section of Western Australia, just growing wheat with very few people.”
This is where the Connections Project comes in. The Project is protecting the irrigators’ consumptive pool.
It’s creating a world-leading irrigation delivery system and generating water savings through infrastructure upgrades, not buyback, to provide to environmental water holders.
“It (the Project) is about making the whole network viable, whereas maybe it wouldn’t have been. It was an ageing leaky delivery system that was designed, and really was fit for purpose, a long time ago,” he said.
“It was world-leading when it was built in the early 20th century, but in the 21st century we’re competing against many challenges – a dry climate, the Murray-Darling Basin Plan, competition in export markets that we haven’t had before.
“All of those things mean we had to build something new. In a nutshell, we have to have a really efficient delivery system. Our region relies on it.”