Ararat water push
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.