System Harmonisation Project -- Coleambally: Final Report

Muhammad Asghar, Tony Barr, Brian Davidson, Ismail Hirsri, Tamara Jackson, Ganesh Keremane, Mac Kirby, Hector Malano, Jennifer McKay, Bandara Nawarathna, Mike Reynolds, Peter Regan, Kieran O'Keeffe, Emanuel Xevi, Glen Starkey

Research output: Book/ReportBook


The aim in this project is to identify, model and estimate the hydrological and economic impacts of deploying water in the Coleambally Irrigation Area of New South Wales. Water in this catchment is operated by and in the interests of society. It was tax payers that established the irrigation scheme, it is farmers that invested in the area to use and develop this water resource and there are organisations (such as Coleambally Irrigation) that control the system. All of these constitute part of a society that benefits from the scheme. A System Harmonisation approach, one that incorporates multiple disciplines to address a range of issues raised by stakeholders within the catchment, is employed in order to gain a comprehensive overview of the problems those stakeholders have and one that they can use to resolve those problems.The nature and requirements of System Harmonisation demand that a 'systems approach' be taken throughout the project. This approach is first and foremost centred on a well defined water bounded region (such as an irrigation area or a catchment) and is driven by the concerns those stakeholders located within the region in question have about how it currently operates and how it might be operated into the future. What becomes important when this approach is used is how the different elements within a system are isolated and linked with one another. The defining link in this analysis is the hydrological function of allocating water to different crops over time. What becomes important in making decisions on different allocations of water temporally and spatially are the economic impacts it has (which are broadly defined to be changes in the total value derived from the use of the water itself, not from the whole production process).While the stakeholders within the Coleambally Irrigation Area face a multitude of problems, most relate to the likely impacts climate change, reduced allocations and different cropping patterns may have. Eliciting these concerns involved a lengthy process and a range of techniques. These issues became the basis for a set of scenarios that were tested once a hydro-economic model, had been constructed. The hydrological elements of the model (the ground and surface water components) were linked through a water allocation model. The ground water component was based on SWAGMAN Destiny, while the allocation model was based on REALM. Overlaying the hydrologic elements were assumptions about future climate outcomes, which were based on the Sustainable Yields project undertaken in CSIRO's land and water division. The net economic benefits that arise from distributing water were evaluated using the Residual Method of valuation, where the costs of producing a particular crop are taken from it's particular total value of production, to reveal the total 'residual' value of water alone. This can then be divided by the quantity of water used on the particular crop in question to obtain the average value of water. This average value is used to evaluate the economic impacts of changes in water allocation derived from the allocation model. It was found in Coleambally over the period from 1998/99 to 2002/03 that changes in surface water allocation had the greatest impact on the region. The choice of a different cropping pattern, from summer to winter, or changes in climate, only had a small impact
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationAustralia
PublisherCRC for Irrigation Futures
Number of pages109
Publication statusPublished - 2010


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