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Southern Rural Water is looking for feedback on a draft local management plan to manage the lower aquifers that stretch across a wide part of South West Victoria.

The plan includes more flexible trading rules and the ability in some areas for farmers to carryover part of their groundwater allocation from year to year.

Acting General Manager Groundwater and Rivers, Chris Hughes, said the Otway Lower Aquifers cover a geographical area stretching from the Otway Ranges to the South Australian border, and from the cost north to Colac, Hamilton and Lake Mundi.

He said that draft plan covers the deeper Clifton (Condah) and Lower Tertiary (Dilwyn) aquifers, and would replace the more formal Groundwater Management Areas and Water Supply Protection Areas including Portland GMA, Condah WSPA, Paaratte GMA, Newlingrook GMA and the deeper aquifer component of the Glenelg WSPA.

“We’ve drafted the new plan with help from local groundwater users, local government and the Catchment Management Authorities,” said Chris.

“The draft proposes a new management boundary that reflects the known area of the aquifers, rather than just those areas where groundwater use is concentrated.

“It proposes more flexible trading rules and introduces groundwater carryover in some areas, as well as maintaining current metering and monitoring.”

Chris said the draft plan allows for new groundwater allocation in some areas under certain conditions, and it also tries to improve long-term water security, particularly for users in the Lake Mundi and Condah areas.

Southern Rural Water will host “drop-in” sessions around the region to help answer questions on the plan, but written submissions are also invited.

Copies of the plan are available on the Southern Rural Water website at srw.com.au, or mailed copies are available by contacting Southern Rural Water on 1300 139 510.

Written feedback is invited by Friday 9 September.

ENDS.

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