Weather radar station lag
Come on, get on with it! That should be a growing regional catch-cry, especially from farmers waiting for the benefits of having access to reliable realtime weather forecasts across the Wimmera-mallee.
How long does it take to find an appropriate site for, let alone build, a weather radar station?
Obviously a long time – or so it seems. We’re getting to a point where delays surrounding the Wimmera Doppler Weather Radar Project are suggesting there is a ‘we don’t want to do it’ mentality from authorities or that there is some serious bureaucratic nonsense at work.
State and federal governments con- firmed in April, 2016, almost two years ago, that they had agreed to jointly fund the project, designed to eliminate a frustrating real-time forecasting ‘black spot’ between radar stations in Mildura and Mt Gambier.
The new radar will help farmers across a vast section of Victoria plan key time-critical activities, such as fertiliser and herbicide applications, reducing costs and increasing productivity and regional economic benefits. It will also play a key role in emergency-response to natural disasters.
The State Government committed $5-million to capital costs of the project and the Federal Government $3.2 to $4-million to cover commissioning and annual operating and maintenance.
We heard in August last year that the Bureau of Meteorology had shortlisted Donald and Hopetoun as potential sites for the radar station and then later that these sites were inappropriate.
We’ve since heard again that selection of a new site is again ‘close’ and that Wimmera Development Association executive director Ralph Kenyon, who with members of his board must be pulling their hair out, remains hopeful the project will happen some time this year.
We understand a critical need for research in determining the right spot for the radar station and the planning needed to make it part of the national weather information-gathering system.
But considering the bureau had a directive to install the radar ‘by the earliest achievable date’ the project is simply taking too long.
We trust delays are based on legitimate site-analysis, engineering, geographical or power-access reasons and not embarrassing government red tape.