In brief

Campaspe News - - NEWS -

Costly warn­ing

RES­I­DENTS in the Echuca re­gion are be­ing warned to pre­pare for in­creases to the cost of liv­ing in 2017.

The cost of many house­hold es­sen­tials and ba­sic ser­vices in Vic­to­ria — in­clud­ing pub­lic trans­port, en­ergy, wa­ter, postage and coun­cil rates — will jump in the New Year, fu­elling con­cerns among wel­fare agen­cies about the im­pact on the state’s most vul­ner­a­ble.

Vic­to­rian Coun­cil of So­cial Ser­vices (VCOSS) chief ex­ec­u­tive Emma King said some price rises were un­der­stand­able, but ex­ces­sive in­creases or price goug­ing was un­ac­cept­able.

‘‘It might seem like just a cou­ple of dol­lars here or there, but these in­creases add up across a house­hold bud­get,’’ she said.

‘‘A record 726,900 Vic­to­ri­ans now live be­low the poverty line. Many peo­ple are liv­ing week to week, or go­ing with­out.

‘‘The last thing strug­gling Vic­to­ri­ans need is an­other whack to the hip pocket.’’

A break­down of the price rises, com­piled by VCOSS, shows most pub­lic trans­port fares will in­crease 3.9 per cent, elec­tric­ity costs will climb 8.4 per cent in 2017/18, while the ba­sic postage rate will jump from 70c to $1.

Ms King said ser­vice providers should be able to jus­tify ev­ery dol­lar in­crease ‘‘just as house­holds have to jus­tify ev­ery dol­lar they spend’’.

‘‘If peo­ple are strug­gling to pay their bills they should talk to ser­vice providers di­rectly about hard­ship poli­cies or pay­ment plans,’’ she said.

‘‘Ser­vice providers need gen­uine, com­pas­sion­ate and flex­i­ble hard­ship poli­cies for peo­ple who are do­ing it tough.’’

Di­vine new tool

THE first stage of an in­no­va­tive new as­sess­ment tool has been de­vel­oped by Goul­burn-Mur­ray Wa­ter to help landown­ers re­duce risks when iden­ti­fy­ing and in­vest­ing in ground­wa­ter.

The Ground­wa­ter In­ter­fer­ence As­sess­ment Tool will pro­vide land­hold­ers with in­for­ma­tion about the best pos­si­ble place to drill for ground­wa­ter.

GMW se­nior hy­dro­ge­ol­o­gist Bren­dan Cossens pre­sented the tool at the Vic­to­rian wa­ter in­dus­try as­so­ci­a­tion innovation con­fer­ence at the end of July.

He said it would re­duce the risk for landown­ers con­sid­er­ing us­ing ground­wa­ter.

‘‘The de­ci­sion to put in a bore for ir­ri­ga­tion is ex­pen­sive and can be fraught with risk,’’ Mr Cossens said.

The GIAT re­duces that risk by in­form­ing the best lo­ca­tion to drill to im­prove the chances of in­ter­sect­ing a suit­able aquifer; iden­ti­fy­ing the man­age­ment ar­range­ments, such as if en­ti­tle­ment is avail­able or if they need to trade; and de­ter­min­ing the like­li­hood of ob­tain­ing a li­cence based on the risk of pump­ing im­pacts to sur­round­ing ground­wa­ter users and the en­vi­ron­ment.

The development of the GIAT is a staged project and a ver­sion of the tool is al­ready in use with GMW to as­sist with as­sess­ing li­cence ap­pli­ca­tions.

The next steps be­ing con­sid­ered in­clude au­tomat­ing data in­puts, pro­vid­ing a spa­tial plat­form, and mak­ing the tool avail­able on the in­ter­net.

Ground­wa­ter is wa­ter found be­neath the earth’s sur­face in pores and crevices of sand and rocks, which are known as aquifers.

For more in­for­ma­tion about the GIAT, phone Bren­dan Cossens at GMW’s Cairn Cur­ran of­fice on (03) 5457 3907.

For more in­for­ma­tion ground­wa­ter, go www.gmwa­­wa­ter on to

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