Water studies promised

THE Liberal-National Coalition has announced $675,000 will be provided for a feasibility study into the second phase of the Macalister Irrigation District development and $677,160 for a feasibility study into the Southern Victorian Irrigation Development Project.

Deputy Prime Minister and Agriculture and Water Resources Minister Barnaby Joyce announced the funding, as part of the National Water Infrastructure Development Fund.

“The government is expediting the planning work required to get water infrastructure projects shovel-ready because we are serious about ensuring water infrastructure gets built as quickly as possible, to help support strong regional economies and communities,” Mr Joyce said.

“This work is a key part of the process, detailing the feasibility, economic returns and sustainability of these projects, as we identify the best sites to deliver new water infrastructure.”

Gippsland MHR Darren Chester said the MID phase two study would look at the best options for improving water infrastructure efficiency to recover more water for productive on-farm use.

“Local water entitlements are currently fully allocated and demand for new water within the district is high – so the results of this study will be of great interest to the local farming community,” he said.

“More modern and efficient water infrastructure would increase available water entitlements for agricultural purposes, and support regional growth and expansion of agriculture in the Macalister region, without compromising the long-term security and sustainability of the region’s water resources.

“The Southern Victorian Irrigation Development Project will identify areas across Gippsland with the greatest potential for development with the right water infrastructure, including assessing potential irrigation water sources and land capability. 

“The study will also assess potential irrigation demand, environmental risks and develop a proposal for a future irrigation scheme.”

Mr Chester said the commitment was another boost to the MID, which recently received $20 million from the Coalition government for the Southern Tinamba Pipeline upgrade, matching commitments from the irrigators and the state government.

Mr Joyce also announced $554,400 in funding to fast-track a feasibility study into ways to increase water storage for the Lindenow valley with off-stream storage of water from the Mitchell River and on-farm storage among options to be considered.