The Ord Irrigation Cooperative (OIC) was formed in 1996 to operate and manage the business of providing water and drainage services to the farms within Stage 1 of the Ord River Irrigation Area (ORIA), as part of the transfer of the irrigation assets and business from the State to the growers.
The ORIA project began in 1941 with an experimental farm in the region. In 1958, the Kimberley Research Station was established on Ivanhoe Plain, as a joint State and Commonwealth venture. In the same year, the Western Australian Government was convinced of the viability of an irrigation scheme, and the initial development was completed in 1963. By 1966, 31 farms were irrigated using water from the Kununurra Diversion Dam.
The construction of the Ord River Dam has resulted in establishing Australia’s second largest inland reservoir, Lake Argyle. It is 21 times the size of Sydney Harbour. The Ord River Dam is 99 metres high, 341 metres long and has an operating storage capacity of 11,000,000 megalitres.
Ord Stage 1 covers 15,150 hectares of agricultural land, which currently has over 300 kilometres of irrigation channels and drains, over 120 regulators, 1200 service meters, and 61 individual customers. Water is gravity fed to farms via a series of earth-lined open-supply channels, using a range of flow regulator structures.
Stage 1 of the Ord River Irrigation Area is allocated 335 gigalitres of water per year. Water is released from Lake Argyle through the Ord River hydropower supply and controlled releases from regulating valves at the base of the dam. Additional flow is also released through the spillway plug into Spillway Creek to provide dry season flow. These combined releases comprise the inﬂow into Lake Kununurra, which through the operation of the Kununurra Diversion Dam, provide the head required to supply the gravity channel network of the Ivanhoe Plain System and the Packsaddle Pump Station.
The Ord Expansion Project is currently investing over $300 million developing additional agricultural land and supporting infrastructure, which includes supply channels, drains and roads. The development will be the most significant addition of agricultural land in Kununurra in over 35 years. The Ord River Irrigation Area sees the expansion as a long-needed addition to the existing irrigated land to improve economies of scale within the region.
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