Successful upgrade following 50 years of service

IRRIGATING THE REGION… For the first time in 52 years, four redial gates at the Goulburn Weir’s Stuart Murray Canal offtake regulator have been replaced with new steel structures. Photo: Supplied.

Water is the word on everyone’s lips around the Goulburn Valley and is a hugely important element of our region. Just last week, one of the oldest, most essential components of our irrigation industry received significant upgrades to its infrastructure, on time and under budget.

Four redial gates were successfully replaced last week, which are critical to the operation of the Stuart Murray Canal at Goulburn Weir. Originally installed in 1967, the old gates were nearing the end of their operational life and had become rusty, degraded and required replacement.

Since May, Goulburn Murray Water (GMW) has been working with Shepparton contractor Fast Track Fabrication and Design to remove the old gates, replicate replacement gates and install the new structures. These new gates have been tested in wet and dry conditions and are now ready for the forthcoming irrigation season.

GMW manager dams operations, Scott Wilkman said, “As we had to drain the Stuart Murray Canal in order to replace these gates, it was critical to our customers that we complete this work during winter, outside the gravity irrigation season.”

To allow for the gate upgrades, GMW also slightly lowered the water level of Lake Nagambie, which will now be returned to its normal level.

The Goulburn Weir is important because it raises the level of the Goulburn River so that water can be diverted by gravity along channels to supply irrigation throughout the region via the Stuart Murray Canal, Cattanach Canal and the East Goulburn Main Channel. On average, 91 percent of all water released from Lake Eildon is diverted for irrigation purposes at Goulburn Weir, averaging about 1,768,000ML yearly.

Construction for the original Goulburn Weir commenced in 1887 and was completed by 1891. This was the first major diversion structure for irrigation in Australia and was considered to be very advanced for the time.

The Goulburn Weir also features one of the very first hydroelectric turbines used in the southern hemisphere. The turbine was used to light up the weir at night and this significant sight attracted visitors from across the state.

At 212 metres long and 15 metres high, the weir itself is a mammoth infrastructure built entirely of concrete imported from England, with the downstream face featuring stepped granite blocks quarried from nearby Mt Black.

For over 90 years of ongoing service, the Goulburn Weir has continued to pump water around the region.

Originally constructed with the main weir in 1890 and subsequently upgraded in the 1960s, the Stuart Murray Canal’s off take structure is located on the western side of the weir. During the 1967s upgrade, ten vertical steel butterfly gates were replaced with the four redial gates, which have just been replaced 52 years later.

Reflecting on the project, GMW senior engineer, Ben Ross said, “We ran ahead of schedule and these new gates will last for another 50 years, at least.”