Rid­ing the waves of wa­ter sup­ply

The Weekly Advertiser Horsham - - News -

If we ever needed to gal­vanise a be­lief that our part of the world is primed for growth, we need only con­sider the role ac­cess to wa­ter is play­ing across the re­gion.

The re­al­ity is that con­struc­tion of the Wim­mera-mallee Pipe­line, which re­placed the vast and clever but in­cred­i­bly waste­ful open-chan­nel sys­tem, opened a new chap­ter of re­gional op­por­tu­nity.

Whether enough peo­ple in power have read the chap­ter be­yond the first few para­graphs re­mains to be seen.

Con­struct­ing a vast net­work of pipes in west­ern Vic­to­ria is much more than cre­at­ing a sys­tem to pro­vide se­cure high-qual­ity wa­ter to iso­lated towns or to wa­ter a few thirsty sheep.

Se­cu­rity of wa­ter sup­ply rep­re­sents a mighty en­gine ca­pa­ble of es­tab­lish­ing the foun­da­tion of in­dus­try and com­mu­ni­ties and act­ing as a stim­u­lant to sig­nif­i­cant so­cio-eco­nomic growth.

In The Weekly Ad­ver­tiser to­day, Gwmwa­ter man­ag­ing di­rec­tor Mark Wil­liams has pro­vided a snap­shot of the crit­i­cal role ef­fi­cient wa­ter sup­ply is hav­ing in driv­ing re­gional devel- op­ment. The dis­tance and in­flu­ence of wa­ter cap­tured and de­liv­ered from the Grampians or sourced from the Mur­ray River and the di­ver­sity in de­vel­op­ment projects is, to say the least, im­pres­sive.

It is all hap­pen­ing de­spite the re­gion ex­pe­ri­enc­ing long pe­ri­ods of dry weather and min­i­mal run-off.

This means we have a wa­ter sys­tem, un­like in many other parts of Aus­tralia that is adapt­able and open to strate­gic re­source man­age­ment – so much so that we have guar­an­teed sup­ply for the next five years.

But, as a state, it is hard to gauge whether we have fully re­alised the op­por­tu­ni­ties this out­stand­ing sup­ply sys­tem pro­vides.

Brain­storm­ing plan­ning for the pipe­line sys­tem years ago pro­duced all sorts of quirky de­vel­op­ment ideas.

Many of them in­volved us­ing saved wa­ter for green­field in­dus­try de­vel­op­ment while guar­an­tee­ing sup­ply for the en­vi­ron­ment.

Yet we have a re­gion of di­min­ish­ing pop­u­la­tion where apart from wa­ter sup­ply, other pieces of the re­gional growth jig­saw such as pub­lic trans­port, health and ed­u­ca­tion ser­vices ap­pear in­cred­i­bly hard to win.

We can only hope the Wim­mera and south­ern Mallee, at some time and per­haps rid­ing on the back of wa­ter, will emerge from Vic­to­ria’s back blocks and re­alise its full po­ten­tial.

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