No plans for pipe use

Shepparton News - Country News - - NEWS -

The Vic­to­rian Govern­ment has no plans to use the Su­gar­loaf pipe­line, built be­tween the Goul­burn River and Mel­bourne wa­ter stor­ages, this sea­son.

The pipe­line was built to trans­fer up to 75 Gl of wa­ter to Mel­bourne from Eil­don reser­voir, as part of the $1 bil­lion com­mit­ment to up­grade north­ern Vic­to­ria’s food­bowl ir­ri­ga­tion in­fra­struc­ture.

How­ever the pipe­line hasn’t been used since 2010 as suc­ces­sive gov­ern­ments have promised not to use it ex­cept in ex­cep­tional cir­cum­stances.

Wa­ter Min­is­ter Lisa Neville said last week: ‘‘We won’t be trans­fer­ring wa­ter away from farm­ers in the north to Mel­bourne; in fact, as we have done for the past three years, we’ll en­sure the 75 Gl of Mel­bourne Wa­ter en­ti­tle­ments will be avail­able to the com­mu­ni­ties in the north.’’

The Mel­bourne wa­ter author­i­ties have been obliged to sell their al­lo­ca­tion each year.

The Pro­duc­tiv­ity Com­mis­sion, in a re­port on na­tional wa­ter re­form, has sug­gested the pipe­line be used be­fore the Won­thaggi de­sali­na­tion plant is called on be­cause of the cheaper cost of the river wa­ter.

The Pro­duc­tiv­ity Com­mis­sion found that: ‘‘Wa­ter trade al­lows wa­ter to be sourced from those that value it least, such as ir­ri­ga­tors, whose pro­duc­tion per me­gal­itre of wa­ter is rel­a­tively low.

‘‘The main ar­gu­ment against al­low­ing trade is that, while it would ben­e­fit those ir­ri­ga­tors that par­tic­i­pate, it would have a neg­a­tive ef­fect on com­mu­ni­ties that rely on ir­ri­ga­tion.

‘‘How­ever, these ef­fects are likely to be mod­est as ur­ban wa­ter use is of­ten small com­pared with ir­ri­ga­tion use and so a small pro­por­tion of ir­ri­ga­tion wa­ter can make a large con­tri­bu­tion to ur­ban sup­plies (for ex­am­ple, if Mel­bourne’s wa­ter util­i­ties had used the al­lo­ca­tion on their own en­ti­tle­ments to trans­fer 75 Gl of wa­ter to Mel­bourne through the north-south pipe­line in 2015-16, this would have been equiv­a­lent to about 2.2 per cent of al­lo­ca­tion avail­able to hold­ers of north­ern Vic­to­rian en­ti­tle­ments).’’

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