Mick Hogan has been involved with the Connections Project “since day dot” and while bearing witness to plenty of ups and downs, he has also seen significant economic benefits – for not only his business but the wider community.
As director of Numurkah-based company Mick Hogan Excavations, Mr Hogan remembers his involvement in early Future Flow meetings (later NVIRP and now the Connections Project) and installation of the first meter at Katandra.
“Our business (Hogans) has grown with Connections. The project moved along and we went with it,” he said.
This has seen Hogans evolve from a 10-man team working with local farmers in irrigation infrastructure to a business with about 50 full-time staff and 20 sub-contracted staff.
While still involved with local farming projects and the installation of pipe and riser systems, Hogans has expanded into channel lining, pipeline works, meter installations and a range of Connections Project jobs that sustain the business year-round.
Mr Hogan said the large-scale project has “definitely had an effect”.
“There is no way the business would be this size if the program hadn’t been in the area. There are also many local businesses that have benefitted – whether directly or indirectly.”
He said flow-on effects include everything from buying parts for machinery and maintenance to suppliers of rock, uniforms, safety equipment, valves, bolts, lasers and surveys. Local fuel outlets have been receiving more takings and takeaway stores are catering for increased demand.
“It’s also things like sourcing fencing equipment from rural suppliers and organising accommodation for some of our sub-contractors who may travel from further afield.”
Mr Hogan has recently invested $250,000 in a new 23-tonne excavator to complement his fleet of 10 excavators and help complete works required this year.
On a personal level, he is 110 per cent invested in seeing the Connections Project through to completion.
“We want to ensure this project leaves a legacy. I’ve got farms myself and many of the staff involved are local. We want to see this work for our region.
“We work with farmers to provide them with the maximum benefit,” he said.
This month a 22-man team from Hogans has been working at a site near Henderson Rd, between Numurkah and Strathmerton.
This has included earthworks, channel shaping, the pouring of concrete sills for meter outlets and 1.5km of plastic lining,
By the end of the winter shutdown period, the team will have completed 10km of plastic channel lining across a number of sites in the Murray Valley.
And while Mr Hogan previously would have sub-contracted out channel lining and plastic welding work, he has adapted his business to capitalise on new opportunities he could foresee.
“We now have our own plastic-lining equipment and crews – the business has expanded into that, which has been beneficial.”
Connections Project Director Frank Fisseler said $100 million is being spent on winter works this season, across a range of projects in the Goulburn-Murray Irrigation District.
This includes 35km of pipeline at seven sites, remediation of 33km of irrigation channels and channel automation at more than 270 sites.
“It’s fantastic to see this investment bringing positive results to people and local businesses in our region,” Mr Fisseler said.
Minister for Water Lisa Neville said the scale of this year’s works program reflects the successful implementation of the Reset Delivery Plan.
“This is delivering more certainty for contractors like Mr Hogan. The $2 billion Connections Project is modernising the network, delivering water more efficiently, encouraging on farm efficiency and generating water savings that supports local jobs.”
At project completion, the Project will provide 429GL of water savings.