SRW’s Macalister Fresh project

SOUTHERN Rural Water has started work on a region-building water strategy called Macalister Fresh, that will deliver a vision and plan to drive future investment in Gippsland.

The $660,000 Macalister Fresh project, funded by the state government and Southern Rural Water, will be co-designed with water users and key partners.

In 2007, Southern Rural Water developed the MID2030 strategy, which planned to modernise the Macalister irrigation delivery system.

A total of $160 million has since been invested in infrastructure upgrades, including funding contributions from the state government, the federal government through the National Water Grid Fund, Southern Rural Water and its customers.

The final infrastructure upgrades under the modernisation program are due for completion in 2024.

The Macalister Fresh project will provide a plan to maximise the benefits of this investment, identify further opportunities and drive future investment in the region.

Southern Rural Water Managing Director Cameron FitzGerald said the Macalister Fresh project will allow the company to collaborate with the people, businesses, and communities it serves to deliver on shared aspirations.

“Gippsland is one of Victoria’s most important food bowls and we have already delivered huge benefits to farmers through our modernisation program,” he said.

“We now have a chance to imagine what else we want to achieve to secure the region’s long-term future and the Macalister Fresh project will provide the pathway for how we get there.”

Exploring more water savings, delivering best practice irrigation, finding innovative solutions to future challenges, and finding great partners to work with are key priorities of the Macalister Fresh project.

The Macalister Fresh project will be delivered over 18 months in four phases.

Phase 1 involves collaborating with water users, businesses, and government to develop a collective vision for the region.

Principles for use and distribution of water savings, decision making frameworks, project prioritisation and project pipeline will be developed as part of the project.

Mr FitzGerald said the project would culminate in a Macalister Fresh investment prospectus that will identify the value of reliable and secure rural water management in Gippsland, and investment opportunities.

“The prospectus will play a key role in attracting business and government to partner with us on water projects that will help grow Gippsland’s multi-billion-dollar food and fibre sector,” he said.

“Macalister Fresh gives us an incredible opportunity to dream big about Gippsland’s future and deliver a plan to unlock more regional economic, cultural and environmental benefits.”