Water drives region
Secure access to high-quality water is helping open the door to drive major development opportunities across the Wimmeramallee.
Despite long periods of dry weather across the region, water via the region’s extensive piping system is providing a catalyst for growth.
Gwmwater managing director Mark Williams, responding to questions about the role water was playing in the region, provided insight into the scope of regional growth based on supply.
He explained the precious liquid was playing an integral role in everything from major renewable-energy infrastructure projects and agricultural expansion to ensuring the health and viability of recreation and environmental assets.
“We often get asked, ‘gee is there enough water in the system because we haven’t had much rain’, when the reality is the amount of saving we are getting from the piped system is substantial,” he said.
“For what we are doing now in providing supply for consumption and development, we have enough water in the system to last for the next five years. That does not mean we can afford to waste it through inappropriate use, but we are equipped to meet strategic demand.
“We couldn’t supply it, for example, for broad-scale open irrigation. It’s about having reliable high-quality water more than in excessive volumes.
“We’re already providing water to drive regional development, but if circumstance arose that swung the region into a higher gear, then we are equipped to meet that challenge.”
Western Victoria’s piping system, with the Wimmera-mallee Pipeline at its heart, now covers almost 15 percent of Victoria.
Mr Williams said guaranteed access to water was providing security to large-scale projects across much of the western third of the state.
“In Buloke Shire for example, having confidence in water access is supporting $23-million in agricultural production, especially in poultry,” he said.
“The shire is also preparing to serve another $27-million worth of permits for other farming enterprises.
“Completion of the Ouyen Lake project, supplied by the Northern Mallee Pipeline, has generated significant socio-economic benefits. We are also supplying water to a solar-farm project at Kiamal.
“Closer to home we’ve been supporting major infrastructure work involving renewable-energy development, such as providing water for concrete pours and dust suppression.
“Project sites such as Murra Warra are tapping into piped supply and in an opportunistic arrangement, Bulgana Green Power Hub in Northern Grampians Shire is pulling water from a Landsborough pipeline, which was constructed primarily to support viticulture in the Pyrenees Valley.”
“Of course Stawell Gold Mine firing up again also requires guaranteed supply,” Mr Williams said.
“Secure access to piped water was a catalyst in establishing a base for oilseeds research at Longerenong and in Hindmarsh Shire piping potable water to Nhill, previously reliant solely on groundwater, allows for greater flexibility in expansion of enterprises such as duck producer Luv-a-duck.
“At the other end of the region, Ararat draws significantly on supply to meet development demand. And of course reports have also revealed the socio-economic value of tourism through the provision of recreation and environmental water to the region.”
Mr Williams said regional opportunities would continue to expand with a new South West Loddon Pipeline close to completion and an East Grampians Pipeline in advanced planning stages.
“Both will play major roles in providing greater opportunities across a broad spectrum of industries,” he said.
Mr Williams said efficiencies built into pipeline management to cope with long periods of dry weather when run-off was minimal, had primed the system to exploit a return to a change in seasons.
“We have a highly efficient headworks system based on lakes Bellfield, Rocklands and Wartook and if we had a return to seriously wet conditions, such as we’ve experienced in the past, we would be in an incredibly strong position to support a variety of regional development projects,” he said.