Wa­ter fund­ing makes fu­ture look snowy

Mansfield Courier - - NEWS -

THE fu­ture of Mt Buller’s crit­i­cal Wa­ter Stor­age Project has been se­cured with the State Gov­ern­ment an­nounc­ing a $7.5 mil­lion grant through the Re­gional Tourism In­fra­struc­ture Fund.

Par­lia­men­tar­ian An­thony Car­bines (MLA, Ivan­hoe) took the op­por­tu­nity to pub­licly an­nounce the fund­ing while at Mt Buller to cel­e­brate the open­ing of the 2018 snow sea­son.

The Mt Buller Wa­ter Stor­age Project will de­liver a 100 me­gal­itre wa­ter stor­age fa­cil­ity within the ski area to pro­vide wa­ter for drink­ing, snow mak­ing and fire­fight­ing.

Iden­ti­fied as a crit­i­cal com­po­nent for the long-term se­cu­rity, sus­tain­abil­ity and growth of the re­sort in sum­mer and winter, the Mt Buller Wa­ter Stor­age Project has been eight years in the mak­ing.

“An ad­e­quate sup­ply of wa­ter is crit­i­cal for Buller to grow dur­ing sum­mer and will dou­ble the amount of stor­age for snow­mak­ing dur­ing winter,” Mark Ben­netts, chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer Mt Buller Mt Stir­ling Re­sort Man­age­ment, said.

“The project will pro­vide jobs dur­ing constructi­on and help se­cure re­gional jobs dur­ing sum­mer and winter in the years to come.”

The project will in­crease snow­mak­ing ca­pac­ity in the 51 hectares of ski area with ex­ist­ing snow­mak­ing, and en­able an ad­di­tional 15 hectares of ski area to re­ceive new snow­mak­ing fa­cil­i­ties.

“This an­nounce­ment is wel­come news for Mt Buller and is a pos­i­tive step to a more cer­tain fu­ture for our skiers and snow­board­ers,” Lau­rie Blampied, gen­eral man­ager Buller Ski Lifts, said.

“For Buller Ski Lifts we can now con­fi­dently plan to make more snow across more ar­eas in the re­sort.

“We’ve wanted to grow our snow­mak­ing ar­eas so skiers and board­ers can en­joy a more re­li­able cover on more ski runs and this now gives us the abil­ity to prom­ise more snow on more runs each winter.”

Mt Buller Mt Stir­ling Re­sort Man­age­ment and Buller Ski Lifts have a joint ven­ture part­ner­ship in mak­ing snow at Mt Buller.

Buller Ski Lifts has com­mit­ted to spend over $8m in ad­di­tional snow­mak­ing and as­so­ci­ated in­fra­struc­ture.

“The project in­cludes a range of en­vi­ron­men­tal ini­tia­tives in­clud­ing an in­no­va­tive wa­ter­ing fea­ture to en­sure the preser­va­tion of im­por­tant alpine bogs and as­so­ci­ated flora and fauna, as well as veg­e­ta­tion off­sets on Mt Stir­ling,” Mr Ben­netts said.

“Twelve months of en­vi­ron­men­tal mon­i­tor­ing is al­ready un­der way to es­tab­lish a base­line be­fore start­ing any constructi­on and will con­tinue there­after.

“The wa­ter stor­age fa­cil­ity will also in­clude walk­ing trails and view­ing ar­eas.”

Plan­ning ap­proval for the project was re­ceived from the State Gov­ern­ment in Jan­uary 2018 and En­vi­ron­ment Pro­tec­tion and Bio­di­ver­sity ap­proval is ex­pected from the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment shortly.

A con­tract to com­plete de­tailed de­sign and constructi­on will be ten­dered later this year.

The wa­ter stor­age fa­cil­ity is ex­pected to be con­structed dur­ing the 2019 - 2020 sum­mer, with fill com­menc­ing dur­ing winter 2020, and be pro­vid­ing wa­ter for Mt Buller from the 2020 – 2021 sum­mer.

Mt Buller and Mt Stir­ling see over 40 per cent of winter visi­ta­tion to Vic­to­ria’s alpine ar­eas each year, host ap­prox­i­mately 500,000 vis­i­tor days each year, help gen­er­ate and main­tain 2600 on moun­tain jobs and many more in the sur­round­ing re­gions, gen­er­ate gross ex­pen­di­ture of ap­prox­i­mately $600m pa, and con­trib­ute $260 mil­lion per an­num to Vic­to­ria’s state rev­enue.

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