Weather radar project on schedule
Farmers, emergency services and communities across the Wimmera and Mallee are on schedule to have access to real-time weather information next year.
Researchers from the Bureau of Meteorology are busy assessing sites for a new multi-million-dollar weather-radar station designed to fill a ‘black hole’ weather-forecasting region between Mildura and Mt Gambier.
The bureau is considering sites nominated by Wimmera Development Association, with instructions to install the radar ‘by the earliest achievable date’.
The bureau has confirmed the project is on target to achieve its commissioning date of 2018.
Member for Mallee Andrew Broad, House of Representatives Environment Committee chair, was confident farmers in particular would make the most of real-time weather forecasting.
“The government commitment and finances are there so it’s all happening, and when it does, Wimmera people will have access to the most accurate weather-forecasting information available,” he said.
“There are a lot of advantages in having accurate real-time weather forecasts and the business case for the project outlined how the return on investment would be significant.”
The radar will help broadacre farmers across a vast section of Victoria plan time-critical activities, such as fertiliser and herbicide applications, reducing costs and increasing productivity, and in turn regional economic benefits.
The Wimmera Doppler Weather Radar Project will also benefit other sectors that rely heavily on weather forecasting, such as emergency and environmental services.
“It will be very good, particularly in growing high-value cash crops such as pulses. There are a lot of advantages,” Mr Broad said.
“I’m always amazed how our growers find ways to drive productivity. Real-time weather information will play a key role in this. They’re pretty innovative our mob.”
The bureau is working with the State Government and Wimmera Development Association on the project.
The State Government has committed $5-million to capital costs of the project and the Federal Government is providing $3.2-million to cover commissioning and annual operating and maintenance costs.
Wimmera Development Association developed the business case.
The radar station represents one of the many concepts the association had, or is exploring, for the region.
Association executive director Ralph Kenyon predicted the site of the radar station to be somewhere bordering the Wimmera and southern Mallee.