ELIGIBLE irrigators in the Macalister Irrigation District are set to receive letters offering them a distribution of water shares created through water savings from recent modernisation works.
The $32 million Phase 1A project was completed in June this year and has provided water savings by modernising infrastructure and reducing water losses.
As a result of the works, about six gigalitres of water savings will now be made available to irrigators through a distribution of water shares, with remaining water savings to be sold to farmers via an auction process.
Southern Rural Water managing director Clinton Rodda said during the development of the MID2030 strategy and its business case, SRW had consulted extensively with MID customers.
“They reinforced that they saw a water share distribution as an important way of ensuring district irrigators shared in the benefits of modernisation,” he said.
SRW developed a strategy from the MID2030 Phase 1A savings to have three water auctions, followed by a distribution equivalent to five per cent of MID entitlement, totalling 6601 megalitres, to eligible customers who hold a water use licence and delivery shares in the MID.
“We’ve held three years of auctions, and we are delighted to be able to now complete the water distribution and we greatly appreciate the government’s support for this process,” he said.
SRW has worked closely with the Macalister Customer Consultative Committee during the process.
Committee acting chair Brad Missen said the additional shares would help farmers to plan ahead.
“It’s great to be able to spread the benefits of modernisation across the MID,” he said.
“This gives us the chance to push production to higher levels, which means we continue to support our communities and jobs in those communities.”
According to the state government, the extra water will provide a huge confidence boost for the irrigation district, particularly for dairy farmers who have had a tough two years.
In a media statement, the government said it would deliver greater water security, and more viable farms in the long term.
“This milestone marks the delivery of an important commitment to irrigators in the district, who have contributed to the modernisation project costs,” the statement read.
Water Minister Lisa Neville said the project had delivered modern assets, water savings and great value for the regional economy.
“We’re pleased water savings are being returned to irrigators, to allow farmers to reinvest and grow,” she said.
Eastern Victoria MLC Harriet Shing said the water savings were is a real boost for the Macalister farming district, which would increase production and development, and further strengthen Gippsland communities.
The water savings were generated by replacing outlets and modernising channels and through the construction of a new water storage dam in Denison to help regulate water.
During the next fortnight, eligible irrigators will receive a letter of offer for water shares, proportional to their delivery shares in the MID.
Those holding delivery shares in the MID have contributed towards the cost of the upgrades.
To receive the shares, the forms must be signed and returned with the letter of offer by early January.
When all the responses have been received, SRW expects to register the shares early in the new year.
Information sessions will be held on Tuesday, December 12, from 10.30 to noon at the Southern Rural Water Maffra office; on Thursday, Deccember 14, from 7.30pm to 9pm at the Tinamba community meeting room and on Wednesday, December 20, from 10.15am to noon at the Bundalaguah Hall.
For more information, visit www.srw.com.au or phone 1300 159 310.