Rubicon Newsletter – March 2023

Irrigation Leader Tour in Australia – March 2023 – US Delegation

In this issue:

2023 Irrigation Leader Tour

Rubicon’s ‘Small But Vital’  Part in New Zealand Ambitious Recharge Projects

Grant Funding Opportunities

Groundwater Recharge Projects and How We Can Help New Rubicon USA Team Member – Technical Business Analyst

Rubicon will be at these upcoming conferences

ConferenceTitleStart dateFinish date Location
ACWA Spring ConferenceAnnual Water Technologies Conference5/09/20235/11/2023Monterey, CA

2023 Irrigation Leader Tour

Earlier in the month, we had the pleasure of teaming up with Water Strategies to host the 2023 Irrigation Leader Tour. The participants from various locations within the USA were taken on an education tour to explore a portion of Australia’s Irrigated Landscape in the Murray-Darling Basin.

Over the course of 5 days, guests had the opportunity to tour a handful of Australia’s largest and most innovative irrigation districts including Goulburn-Murray WaterColeambally Irrigationand Murrumbidgee irrigation. Each of these districts operate a large-scale gravity-fed irrigation network and with ongoing investments in automated technology, have been able to achieve up to (in some cases exceeding) a 90% water distribution efficiency. In 2022, the largest of these districts, Goulburn-Murray Water confirmed that, due to modernization, they’re now exceeding their water recovery target of 348,000 acre-feet per year. 

The investment in modernization was evoked as a direct response to the Millenium Drought experienced in Australia during the early 2000s. These districts now represent some of the most efficient irrigation districts in the world and provided incredible insight for participants as to what’s achievable throughout many areas of the United States and the world that are facing increased concerns around water scarcity.  

An enormous thank you to the water authorities in Australia for welcoming the group and dedicating the time to share your modernization journey. 

More to come on the tour in the coming weeks! For now, here are a few photos. 

Rubicon’s ‘Small But Vital’ Part in New Zealand Ambitious Recharge Projects

Rubicon has the pleasure of being a vital part of very large and ambitious aquifer and surface water recharge projects in New Zealand.

The Hekeao/Hinds Water Enhancement Projects include Managed Aquifer Recharge (MAR) and what is known as Near River Recharge, which is a type of MAR conducted in the immediate flood plain of a river system. 

MAR is achieved by excavating a cavity down towards the existing ground water of the aquifer.  The soil layer containing stored nutrients is removed from the recharge areas to allow the clean water supplied from the river via irrigation scheme infrastructure to permeate into the aquifer. Refer to the illustration below 

Managed Aquifer Recharge Process

Near River Recharge is achieved by clean water sourced via irrigation scheme infrastructure discharged into excavated basins near a river, thus enhancing river flows. 

The large and complex project will eventually include dozens of sites located across 250,000 acres in the New Zealand’s South Island region of Canterbury to enhance the quality and availability of water for the future. 

Rubicon’s part in the overall project is relatively small in scale but of significant importance as the automated control and monitoring infrastructure provided by Rubicon is vital to the success of these MAR projects. Currently, two Rubicon monitoring sites are connected via Rubicon’s software to multiple sensors. There are three powered control sites, three PikoMeters and one SlipMeter – all of which are responsible for ensuring water flow is accurately managed and measured. 

Further potential for Rubicon infrastructure will be during the current development phase of the PROJECT at 25 new or upgraded sites to be mostly controlled by SlipMeters and a further few controlled by PikoMeters or BladeMeters. Eventually there may be as many as 55 Rubicon gates in operation with potential additional uses for Rubicon’s FerIT™ Node and FerIT™ Solar Node for communication purposes.. 

The Hekeao/Hinds projects are attempting to leverage data and technology to improve farming practices of the past that degraded the quality of groundwater. Nitrate-N concentrations in the groundwater vary across the catchment, but in some cases, regularly exceed the New Zealand Drinking Water Standard of 11.3mg/l nitrate-Nitrogen. The New Zealand Government has longer term targets of 2.4mg/l nitrate-N. 

Dr. Brett Painter, representing the Hekeao/Hinds Water Enhancement Trust that is managing the project, explained how the worldwide perception for pristine water  conditions in New Zealand are not always the ‘whole truth’ and that the country must also work towards environmental improvements, just like anywhere else on the globe. 

“We have not always known what is going on in our water systems” said Dr. Painter,  who describes himself as a water systems scientist. “We generally say that New Zealand is cleaner and greener, but we also know it is not green enough.”  

With a PhD in Natural Resources Engineering,  17-year history of environmental research and a further 13– years of leading projects, Dr. Painter says the Hekeao/Hinds Projects are an impressive example of how stakeholders have worked together and avoided adversarial situations to make the improvements reality. “We made a safe place for informed discussion and parties demonstrated a lower level of self-interest” he added. 

Pilot projects proved how water contamination could no longer be considered a lost cause and that  improvement techniques work. Local communities, now understanding clearly the advantages of cleaner water and how to reach it, were then able to enthusiastically put plans and funding into action.  The Hekeao /Hinds Water Enhancement Trust was created. 

Nevertheless, Dr. Painter points out that after decades of agricultural land use “it takes a long time to turn the ship around’’. 

The co-ordinated effort also requires farmers to embrace ongoing nutrient management improvements. Current groundwater contains a mixture of nitrate accumulated from recent months to years, and a legacy of issues  brought about over years to decades of land use practices. “It is a long process to make a difference in water quality and associated eco-system health” said Dr. Painter. 

Most of the groundwater has traveled via multiple layers of old braided channels from the historic Rangitata and Ashburton glaciers. While on its journey to the coastal waterways and then the ocean, the pristine water became contaminated by nutrient seepage. 

Dr. Painter explains how some deep aquifer water could take 100 years or more to clean-up, while more shallow aquifer water could take as little as ten years.  

The Hekeao/ Hinds Water Enhancement Projects are designed to speed up that process. Managed Aquifer Recharge is described by the Trust as “an activity that is for the express purpose of improving the quality and/or quantity of water in a receiving groundwater aquifer or a hydraulically connected surface water body.”    

Near River Recharge is described as Managed Aquifer Recharge conducted in the current flood plain of a river system, but not mixing with natural surface water. Pristine water from the Rangitata River is moved directly to recharge sites where all contaminated soil has been removed, therefore allowing the clean water to flow directly into the aquifer. 

Other elements of the solution include an enhanced  habitat for native birds, lizards and fish by planting native forests around key project sites and native aquatic plants in supported wetlands.  

Further information on the project is available at:  www.hhwet.org.nz 

Grant Funding Opportunities

California NRCS Groundwater Recharge Pilot Program

Applications due by April 3 2023

This opportunity is open to Irrigation Districts and Landowners or Growers with lease using two interim practice standards for groundwater recharge: 

  • Groundwater Recharge Basin or Trench – a dedicated, permanent  (15 year) recharge feature 
  • On-Farm Recharge – active farmland flooded on an annual basis for recharge. 


Applicants work with the NRCS conservationists to develop a
n action plan including the interim recharge practices and any needed support practices.  Supporting practices include pipeline, pump, land shaping, ditch and water control structures. 

Applicants must be in the following CA Counties – Madera, Fresno, Merced, Tulare and Kern and be within the boundaries of named irrigation districts. 

Applications are due by April 3 2023. 

The highest scoring projects will be announced after July 1. 

 Further information:  suscon.org/wp-content/uploads/2023/03/NRCS-recharge-pilot-program-2-page-overview_2023.pdf 

Oregon Water Project Grants and Loans

Closes April 26

 

Eligible projects include conservation, reuse, above/below ground storage, streamflow protection or restoration, water distribution, conveyance or deliver systems and other water resource development projects that result in economic, environmental, and social/cultural public benefits. 

Any local government, Indian tribe, or person may apply for funding.  There is a 25% matched funding requirement.  There is a forecast of $18.9 million available for the 2023 funding cycle. 

Further information is available at: oregon.gov/OWRD/programs/FundingOpportunities/WaterProjectGrantAndLoans/Pages/default.aspx 

Nebraska Conservation Collaboration Cooperative Agreements 

Nebraska Conservation Collaboration Cooperative Agreements

  • Collaboration between the NRCS and the USDA 
  • Must be in Nebraska 
  • $50,000-$1,000,000, 0% match 
  • Eligibility criteria for entity types include country governments, Indian tribes, for-profit and non-profit organizations, and more.

 

Eligible project types include improving soil health. (Ex. Measuring outcomes, developing technical resources, etc.), improving the conservation of natural resources and the economic performance of working agricultural lands, improving the use and effectiveness of new technologies in agriculture, improving watershed performance in dealing with water quantity issues; either excess or inadequate, and downstream impacts. See more here.

https://www.grants.gov/web/grants/search-grants.html?keywords=USDA-NRCS-NE-MULTI-23-NOFO0001237 

Groundwater Recharge Projects and How We Can Help

There are many different types of artificial aquifer recharge projects. Natural water recharge occurs without human intervention, but human intervention is becoming increasingly necessary in the USA as groundwater is being depleted at a rate faster than natural recharge. 

As, in the New Zealand Hekeao/Hind recharge project featured in this newsletter, automated technology plays a small but vital role in helping to make the project a success, by redirecting and measuring water flow.   

If you have a project you are considering and would like our assistance in planning how and where Rubicon technology might be used to enhance the project, please reach out. 

Rubicon’s solutions are perfectly geared to support aquifer recharge projects.  

For further information please contact your Regional Account Manager or simply reply to this email and we’ll get in contact.

Rubicon Water’s Grant Writing Assistance

This a reminder that Rubicon offers free of charge, no obligation grant writing assistance, no matter how big or small the project is. Note that our grant service has successfully assisted customers in grant applications even for the purchase of a single gate awell as for more complex automated water delivery systems.

New Rubicon USA Team Member – Technical Business Analyst

In 2022, Rubicon Water welcomed Philip Zimmermann as a Technical Business Analyst.  

With a professional background spanning over 25 years, Philip brings expertise in computer programming, data analytics, and computer forensics. He lends his skills to the development of the Rubicons suite of software, in the delivery of new software solutions to North American customers and software support of existing and new North American customers.  

Throughout his career, Philip has delivered technology and data analytic services to diverse industries such as financial services, biotech, insurance, and now to the irrigation industry.