Murrumbidgee Irrigation (MI) established the Murrumbidgee Irrigation Area Renewal Alliance to carry out innovative infrastructure upgrades that would improve the existing irrigation delivery system, increase agricultural productivity, create water savings, and ultimately ensure the future viability of the Murrumbidgee Irrigation Area.
Key elements of the upgrade included converting open channels to pipelines, channel relining works, automation of flow control structures, and installation of new water flow meters that integrated with existing on-farm infrastructure. Engaging the community and stakeholders, including over 300 farmers (who were also property owners and customers of MI), was critical to ensuring the successful delivery of the project.
The Alliance and stakeholder engagement specialists, GHD, aimed to engage these key stakeholders in the following ways:
- Involve stakeholders in each of the designing, planning, and construction phases
- Consult and collaborate with stakeholders to better understand their needs and make more informed decisions
- Keep stakeholders informed of works and progress
In partnership with GHD, the Alliance utilised the Consultation Manager platform to record all interactions with stakeholders, maintain up-to-date contact details, facilitate SMS and email communication and regularly undertake real-time reporting. Engagement activities included Project Reference Groups, interactive community workshops, one-on-one site-based meetings, and a formal process to determine customer support for the award-winning Hanwood Modernisation Project.
A large amount of feedback was captured from MI customers into Consultation Manager at each stage of the project. In a formal evaluation of the engagement process, 90% of stakeholders reported that they had a positive experience working with the Alliance. Other key benefits of using Consultation Manager included:
- Strengthened trust, through involving stakeholders in engagement activities
- Increased efficiency, by capturing data into centralised storage that is accessible anywhere
- Effective communication, streamlined by SMS and email tools to inform and update stakeholders
- Proactive resolution of issues, by collaborating with stakeholders and real-time reporting
As a result of work undertaken by the alliance, MI has increased customer confidence and trust in their decision making. Being able to easily record, access and report on interactions with stakeholders through the Consultation Manager platform was vital to the successful delivery of the engagement programs.
Allen Rodwell, GHD
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