Ararat water push

The Weekly Advertiser Horsham - - Front Page -

Ararat mu­nic­i­pal lead­ers will use the im­pend­ing Fed­eral Elec­tion to up the ante in a bid to ob­tain the ex­tra money needed to start an $85-mil­lion East Grampians Pipeline project.

Ararat Ru­ral City Coun­cil has listed the Gwmwa­ter project, de­signed to dra­mat­i­cally im­prove water se­cu­rity for much of the mu­nic­i­pal­ity, as one of its key ad­vo­cacy is­sues.

It is call­ing for fed­eral in­ter­ven­tion in the wake of the May 18 elec­tion an­nounce­ment.

Ararat mayor Peter Beales said a lack of guar­an­teed ac­cess to high­qual­ity water in ru­ral ar­eas of the shire was a pro­found im­ped­i­ment to in­dus­try growth and de­vel­op­ment.

Cr Beales said re­gard­less of which party won the elec­tion, the re­gion’s water is­sues would re­main un­til the Fed­eral Govern­ment took ac­tion.

“Gwmwa­ter has been al­lo­cated nearly half the money needed but we need at least $32-mil­lion from the Fed­eral Govern­ment to make the pipeline a re­al­ity,” he said.

“We des­per­ately need fed­eral as­sis­tance to se­cure the re­gion’s ac­cess to re­li­able water and al­low crop­ping, stock and wine busi­nesses to not only grow, but thrive. Our mu­nic­i­pal­ity is known for its agri­cul­tural as­sets, from vine­yards to stock and crop farms, and to see this pipeline built would be a ma­jor tri­umph for the com­mu­nity.”

The re­gion sur­round­ing Ararat has a rep­u­ta­tion for hav­ing un­re­li­able ground­wa­ter and sur­face water catch­ment ar­eas, mak­ing agri­cul­tural pro­duc­tion chal­leng­ing.

The Ararat coun­cil is con­fi­dent the pipeline will help se­cure the fu­ture of lo­cal farm­ers’ busi­nesses based on ex­pec­ta­tions that cli­mate con­di­tions will be­come drier in the fu­ture.

Ararat coun­cil chief ex­ec­u­tive Tim Har­ri­son stressed the im­por­tance of the project dur­ing a busi­ness break­fast at Ararat’s Alexan­dra Oval Com­mu­nity Cen­tre.

He out­lined the coun­cil’s po­si­tion on the East Grampians Pipeline af­ter an ex­plana­tory ad­dress on the project and other re­gional water is­sues from Gwmwa­ter man­ag­ing direc­tor Mark Wil­liams.

The coun­cil also pre­sented a slideshow fea­tur­ing farmer case stud­ies, high­light­ing how a lack of high-qual­ity water was sti­fling farm-busi­ness op­por­tu­ni­ties, dur­ing the break­fast gath­er­ing

Dr Har­ri­son said the pipeline would en­hance pro­duc­tiv­ity and growth, and re­duce op­er­at­ing costs in the mu­nic­i­pal­ity’s farm­ing sec­tor.

“Agri­cul­ture is one of our most im­por­tant busi­ness sec­tors – it drives eco­nomic ac­tiv­ity right across the mu­nic­i­pal­ity and be­yond,” Dr Har­ri­son said.

“The pipeline is es­sen­tial for this sec­tor to thrive, and it will also pro­vide sig­nif­i­cant so­cial, re­cre­ational and en­vi­ron­men­tal ben­e­fits for the re­gion. Our farm­ers and town­ships are cry­ing out for this pipeline, which would re­ally help re­lieve the ex­tra pres­sures un­re­li­able water sup­plies cre­ate.”

The East Grampians Pipeline, a planned ex­ten­sion of the Wim­mera Mallee Pipeline, has been the sub­ject of a busi­ness case in­volv­ing the Ararat, North­ern Grampians and Pyre­nees coun­cils and the De­part­ment of En­vi­ron­ment, Land, Water and Plan­ning as well as Gwmwa­ter.

The pipeline would of­fer a retic­u­lated water-de­liv­ery net­work and Gwmwa­ter is seek­ing ex­pres­sions of in­ter­est from agri­cul­tural busi­nesses for con­nec­tion.

It in­volves con­struc­tion of 1600 kilo­me­tres of stock and do­mes­tic pipeline for up to 530,000 hectares roughly stretch­ing from the eastern fringe of Grampians Na­tional Park to be­yond Buan­gor and Stoneleigh and from Joel South in the north to Lake Bo­lac in the south. It would also stretch from Ever­s­ley in the north­east to Stavely in the south­west.

Much of the pipeline foot­print is in an area that early Eu­ro­pean ex­plorer Thomas Mitchell, im­pressed with the op­por­tu­nity it rep­re­sented, named ‘Aus­tralia Felix, or ‘for­tu­nate or happy’ Aus­tralia.

Ex­pec­ta­tions are that on com­ple­tion, a fully oper­a­tional pipeline might pro­vide high­qual­ity water from the Grampians via Lake Fyans for up to 1500 ru­ral farm­ing prop­er­ties

The State Govern­ment an­nounced $32-mil­lion for its share of the project last year.

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