Path to local management

Key dates Transition schemes  
End of 2016 Transition boards established and re-engage with customers about local management
31 January 2017

Board’s of transition schemes to indicate whether they wish to proceed with further investigations into local management, based on the offer from government.

31 October 2017

Negotiation between transition schemes and government complete and transfer agreement signed.

By 31 January 2018

Transition schemes provide a customer offer and gauge level of customer support

By 1 July 2018 Transfer of transition schemes (subject to customer support)

Following the irrigation price path announced in 2012, irrigators raised concerns about the long term sustainability of SunWater’s eight channel irrigation schemes. In response to these concerns the Government committed to investigating the possibility of the schemes transitioning to local management arrangements (LMA).  

In June 2014, interim boards established for each scheme submitted business proposals to the government to transfer ownership and operation of the infrastructure to scheme customers. In September 2015 the government decided that local management in Emerald, Eton, St George and Theodore, where financial viability and strong customer commitment to local ownership had been demonstrated, should proceed (Transition schemes). It further decided that support should be provided to Bundaberg, the Burdekin-Haughton, Mareeba-Dimbulah and the Lower Mary to continue to investigate the potential for transition to local management (Investigation schemes).

Four companies and boards for each of the Transition schemes have been established, with the purpose of negotiating with government on the terms of transition to local management. These are companies are currently owned by government, with the company boards representing the interest of local irrigators.  The intention is that these will transfer over to customer-ownership if and when LMA proceeds.

Key dates Investigation schemes
End of 2016 Investigation boards established and re-engage with customers about local management
Sept/Oct 2017 Investigation schemes consult customers on revised business proposal
By 30 November 2017*

Revised business proposal submitted to government if supported by customers.


* Extension of time granted on 11 Sept 2017

Four boards were also formed for the schemes undertaking further investigations on how the irrigation channels could operated under local management. Legislation has also been introduced to facilitate future implementation of local management arrangements.

In October 2016, the government provided a formal response to the schemes 2014 business proposals. Transitioning schemes were made a formal offer that identified a proposed separation payment to ensure the financial viability of the schemes, the assets to be transferred and key terms for any final transfer. Investigation schemes received feedback on their business proposal and description of the changes that will be required for the scheme to be considered for a move to local management.

Transition and investigation boards are currently reviewing and assessing the impact of the government’s response and will be consulting customers and stakeholders to discuss and receive initial feedback and customer support for continuing the Local Management Arrangements process.