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Lower Burdekin Water (LBW) is an irrigation district south of Townsville, NSW, Australia located in the township of Ayr. LBW is a unique irrigation district in that the supply network is a combination of creeks, lagoons and man made canals. The irrigation network was developed by placing regulators along creeks and on lagoons. Where there were no natural water ways to convey the water, man made canals were made. The irrigation water that feeds the district is pumped from the nearby river at various pump stations into the water supply network.



LBW decided to explore their modernisation options in an attempt to solve some of the problems they were facing:

  • LBW is subject to cyclones and heavy rain events. When these events occur the natural waters that are within the system need to act as drains to help manage the localised flooding. Often the floodwaters rise too quickly or during the night and the operators were not able to adjust the regulators in time which meant the creeks were not as effective in draining the flood waters. When the operators could access the regulators they would open them to drain the flood waters as quickly as possible, which often meant the irrigation network needed to be refilled by the pumps before water deliveries to farmers could being again.


  • LBW's biggest operational expense is the cost of pumping the water that supplies all of the the farms in the LBW district. LBW wished to reduce their pumping expenses by improving the delivery efficiency of their supply network and reducing wastage.


  • Many of the regulators were beginning to present Operational Health and Safety (OH&S) risks for the operators and LBW wished to reduce the risk of injury for their staff.

Solutions and Outcomes

The LBW modernisation project consisted of the installation of automatic gates at key locations within the irrigation area to maximise the effect of automatic control on their waterways. The gates have been a combination of undershot, overshot and under/overshot combination gates. Due to the varying nature of the waterways at LBW from high gradient creeks to large flat lagoons it was important to match the flow and control characteristics of the different gate types with the requirements of the individual sites to ensure the gates could deliver optimal performance. Each of the gates was installed with a solar powered control system and a 4G modem for reliable and immediate remote access for control and monitoring.


Custom automatic gate control algorithms were specified and developed to ensure each gate was able meet the clients water control objectives. The result was a suite of gates that are able to react automatically to changing conditions without the need for input from the operators, allowing the gates to automatically fully open during a flood event and close as the flood recedes to capture the remaining flood water and ensure a full irrigation network. This automation of the large lagoons in the network has significantly reduced the costs associated with pumping the water to refill the irrigation network after the flood waters have been drained.


During normal operation the operators are able to set the automatic gates to deliver a constant flow rate or maintain constant pool levels. That has allowed the operators to match flow deliveries with demand and prevent over flow into drains to reduce wastage.

Each site has a touchscreen HMI installed for local control, monitoring and to assist with troubleshooting and maintenance programs. The HMI is also a Virtual Network Computer (VNC) host, which allows the operators to remotely connect to the site via the internet using any PC, tablet or smart phone. This VNC connection brings the full functionality of the site HMI to the operators device which allows for unlimited remote monitoring and control of the sites in exactly the same manner as if the operator was at the gate site.




The LBWB modernisation project is an example of how understanding all the aspects of the clients operation form the physical infrastructure to their operational procedures and concerns allows us to deliver modern industry leading solutions that match the clients needs. We were able to utilise our wide range of knowledge and experience from water way control to telecommunication and virtual networking to provide a cost effective and sustainable solution for LBW.

The above project was completed by the founder of Intelligent Canal Systems during a term of employment at AWMA Water Control Solutions.

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