Local Management Arrangements for Irrigation Channel Schemes

Principles to guide LMA process

  1. The long-term benefits (including economic, financial and public interest benefits) to the State of each proposal, outweigh the costs incurred in setting up and operating local management.
  2. A strong majority of irrigators support the move to local management.
  3. The LMA must be a viable enterprise over the long term with limited risk of financial, operational or other significant failure, without recourse to Government.
  4. The LMA is capable of delivering efficient water services.
  5. The assets will be maintained and refurbished in line with agreed service levels.
  6. The LMA demonstrates a capacity to meet the statutory planning, regulatory and environmental obligations.
  7. Any required debt funding can reasonably be accessed, noting that the new entities would be prohibited from borrowing from the Queensland Treasury Corporation (QTC).

For some time irrigators have been calling for the local management of SunWater’s eight irrigation channel schemes in Queensland. This would mean that distribution assets are transferred from government to entities owned and managed by the water users supplied by the scheme.

Interim boards for each of the eight schemes have been established to determine how the schemes could be locally run as viable businesses. This analysis will assist the Queensland government to assess whether local management is in the best long-term interests of irrigators and the State.

An independent project team, led by irrigator and national water commissioner Leith Boully, has been set up to support the interim boards put their case for local management.

This process will be considering the distribution assets - such as channels, pipes and some of the pump stations. Bulk water assets, such as major dams are not included.

Government has approved a set of seven principles to guide the review of options for local management (also referred to as LMA). The interim boards will need to show that their proposals for local management meet these principles.



In September 2014, the Independent Chair submitted to the Queensland Government the final report for Stage 2 of the investigations into local management arrangements. A public version of the report, which includes the key findings and recommendations, is available here.

On 11 December, the Government announced that it has decided to proceed with local management arrangements for all eight SunWater channel irrigation schemes (Media release available here). To prepare for the transition to local management, eight new entities are to be established, one for each of the channel schemes.  A public call for expressions of interest for individuals to sit on the boards of those entities will be released in the near future.