Riding the waves of water supply
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.