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Irrigation Futures of the Goulburn Broken Catchment

The Goulburn Broken Irrigation Futures project used scenario planning with extensive stakeholder engagement to develop a vision and strategies for irrigated agriculture in the region over the next 30 years.

Scenario planning enabled the process to incorporate the complex interactions within future systems. Stakeholder engagement ensured that local knowledge, stakeholder values and ownership was built into project outputs. An unintended outcome is that the engagement has produced a network of champions who support and encourage the adoption and implementation of project findings.

An economic analysis was carried out on this project, looking at the following benefits: productivity and profitability; environmental; and social.

Download economic analysis.


The project objectives were to:

  • Facilitate key stakeholders to develop a shared vision for the future of irrigation in the Goulburn Broken Region over the next 30 years, and to identify scenarios of major constraints and opportunities and of regional response options
  • Understand the social, economic and environmental consequences of various scenarios through impact assessment that integrates the best available knowledge
  • Facilitate key stakeholders to build consensus on preferred regional options for future irrigation, and recommend regional follow-up actions.
  • Develop a methodology that can be applied elsewhere in Australia for sustainable irrigation planning at a catchment scale.


The project outputs have recorded the above regional scale and agency-specific assessments and strategies. That work will assist agencies and businesses in the region to prepare for the future of irrigated agriculture over the next 30 years. The project has also demonstrated that scenario planning can be used with communities for regional planning. It has provided a methodology for such planning that can be used by other regional communities. The methodology provides a step-by-step guide to the processes used in the Goulburn Broken Irrigation Futures project, and the lessons learnt by the project team though their implementation.


The Goulburn Broken Catchment is a major contributor to the state and national economies and the quality of life of consumers. The region faces significant challenges and opportunities. Issues such as free-trade agreements, climate change, water reform, and technological developments will have a significant influence on the future. As one of the oldest gravity irrigation systems in Australia, Goulburn-Murray Water’s irrigation system needs substantial renewal of its ageing infrastructure in the next 20 years. The consequences of these pressures are highly uncertain and will impact on the region’s economy, environmental assets and social fabric. It is therefore critical that the region develops a sound plan to strategically position itself for irrigation in the future.

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Project ID:


State & NRM Region(s)

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id: 2645 / created: 10 September, 2008 / last updated: 09 March, 2010