History Of The GVIA
The development of the irrigation industry in the region during the 1970s and 80s afforded the Gwydir Valley huge opportunity, with industry growth rapid. During the early decades a number of various seperate water user groups emerged, represented as the Gwydir Water Users Council. By the 1990s it was decided to streamline representation by merging these bodies into one, and thus the Gwydir Valley Irrigators Association was established.
The objectives of the organisation have remained consistent since inception, with a key aim of the GVIA to provide a strong and united voice to government, representative of the local irrigation industry and community. Protecting and securing water rights whilst building a sustainable future through irrigated agriculture is another priority.
The 1990s was a time of significant reform pressure for the industry, with more information on the facinating evolution of the industry available at A History of Water Reform.
Initially the organisation was established thanks to generous local business donations. Later all irrigation entitlement holders were levied on a cent per megalitre voluntary contribution basis.
With the GVIA operating on a voluntary basis during the early years, generous local consultants provided technical advice, support and prepared submissions. These original founding members were tireless and selfless, volunteering unlimited hours of support to establish, advocate and represent the local industry.
Key issues at the time included:
- Development of the Integrated Quality and Quantity Model for the Gwydir Valley; and
- Negotiating the River and Groundwater Management Plans.
In 2003, the organisation moved to employ a full-time Executive Officer to oversee and help the committee develop and implement water policy. This position was originally held by Michael Murray and now by our current Executive Officer, Zara Lowien.
In the following years the GVIA expanded capacity, moving more actively into research and project management. Depending on grant funding, this allowed the organisation to employ others on a part-time and full-time temporary basis.
Past projects include:
- A Wetlands Recovery Officer to implement on-farm grants aimed at improving the management of wetland and riparian areas;
- An Irrigation Development Officer to establish and manage our Systems Comparison Trial;
- A Regional Landcare Facilitator to provide engagement and extension of natural resource management and best management practices to growers.
The organisation currently employs a Project Officer to manage grants for irrigation research and on-farm trials. For more information on this see our Community and Industry Initiatives.