Weather radar project on sched­ule

The Weekly Advertiser Horsham - - News - BY DEAN LAW­SON

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.

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