Meander Dam: an award-winning water management system for reliable irrigation
Client: Tasmanian Irrigation
Location: Tasmania, Australia
Measuring, modelling and predicting water levels to support decision making for secure, reliable irrigation and safe water assets in an agricultural region.
Tasmanian Irrigation required a water modelling and management system to deliver greater certainty of irrigation water supply from Meander Dam in northern Tasmania. This certainty is crucial for increasing agricultural output and productivity, and delivering greater confidence for investment in individual farms and in the region. Improved water decision-making would also enable increased hydropower output from the dam to help offset the irrigation provider’s operational costs.
Entura designed and delivered a water management system, based on the Ajenti Data Management System, which offers a full picture of the dam’s current status and possible short- and long-term water storage and power output scenarios, using the OPSIM modelling system developed by Water Solutions.
The system harnesses real-time rainfall and flow monitoring data captured by a network of catchment telemetry. This information is combined with a hydrological model of the catchment and weather forecasts from the Bureau of Meteorology to produce short-term (7 day) and long-term (up to a year) forecasts and simulations showing a range of possible scenarios and probabilities for water storage and power output.
Because Entura’s solution is cloud based, it is robust, ensures continuous effective operation and maintenance, and allows very high reliability (99.995% uptime) to be achieved for reasonable cost. Entura backs-up the system with 24/7 expert support.
The Meander Dam water management system provides the reliable information to help deliver irrigation certainty while also maximising hydropower generation and ensuring dam safety. In the 2015–16 irrigation season the region experienced below-average rainfall and increased demand for irrigation water supply. With Entura’s system, Tasmanian Irrigation was able to match demand from predicted storage levels, fulfilling irrigator expectations and retaining sufficient storage capacity to be able to extend water delivery for an additional month. This ensured that irrigators were able to finish final crops and also maintain pasture growth for livestock and dairy activities.
The system also enabled Tasmanian Irrigation to maximise hydropower generation after the end of the 2015–16 irrigation season, as the predicted rainfall allowed increased generation, which also minimised the potential for the dam to spill.
Entura’s water management system provided a cost-effective and secure way for the client to access the expertise behind a specialist best-practice system, avoiding the need to purchase and maintain expensive hardware, reducing the requirement for any specialist technical capacity on staff, and eliminating the risk of system error or outage.
The Meander Dam integrated water management system was the winner of the Australian Engineering Excellence Awards Tasmania 2016 in the category ‘Control Systems, Networks, Information Processing and Telecommunications’ and the winner of the Environmental Engineering Excellence Award at the national Australian Engineering Excellence Awards 2016.