Wa­ter drives re­gion

The Weekly Advertiser Horsham - - Front Page - BY DEAN LAW­SON

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.

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