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The Andrews Labor Government is delivering greater water security to farmers as part of irrigation modernisation works in the Macalister Irrigation District in Gippsland.

The $32 million Phase 1A project was completed in June this year and has provided water savings by modernising infrastructure and reducing water losses.

Because of the modernisation works, approximately 6GL of water savings is now being made available to irrigators, with remaining water savings to be sold to farmers via an auction process.

The extra water will provide a huge boost of confidence for the irrigation district, particularly for dairy farmers who have had a tough two years – delivering greater water security and more viable farms in the long term.

The water savings have been generated by replacing outlets, modernising channels and construction of a new water storage dam at Denison to help regulate water.

This milestone marks the delivery of an important commitment to irrigators in the district, who have contributed to the modernisation project costs.

Irrigators were consulted throughout the development of Southern Rural Water’s Macalister Irrigation District 2030 strategy and expressed their desire for the water savings to be distributed to irrigators in the district.

Eligible irrigators will receive a letter of offer from Southern Rural Water for their proportion of the water savings, with further information about this process to be made available on the website, srw.com.au.

Quotes attributable to Minister for Water Lisa Neville

“The modernisation work in the Macalister Irrigation District has been completed on time and on budget and has delivered modern assets, water savings and great value for the regional economy.”

“We’re pleased water savings are being returned to irrigators, to allow farmers to reinvest and grow.”

Quote attributable to Member for Eastern Victoria Harriet Shing

“This is a real boost for the Macalister farming district, which will increase production and development, and further strengthen Gippsland communities.”

Benefits flow from irrigation district upgrades

Eligible irrigators in the Macalister Irrigation District are set to receive letters offering them a distribution of water shares created through water savings from recent modernisation works.

Welcoming the Minister’s announcement, Southern Rural Water Managing Director Clinton Rodda said: “During the development of the MID2030 strategy and its business case, we consulted extensively with MID customers. They reinforced that they saw a water share distribution as an important way of ensuring district irrigators shared in the benefits of modernisation.”

SRW developed a strategy from the MID2030 Phase 1A savings to have three water auctions followed by a distribution equivalent to 5% of MID entitlement, totalling 6601ML, to eligible customers who hold a water use licence and delivery shares in the MID. “We’ve held three years of auctions and we are delighted to be able to now complete the water distribution and we greatly appreciate the government’s support for this process,” he said.

SRW has worked closely with the Macalister Customer Consultative Committee (MCCC) on the process.  MCCC acting chair Brad Missen said the additional shares would help farmers to plan ahead: “It’s great to be able to spread the benefits of modernisation across the MID. This gives us the chance to push production to higher levels, which means we continue to support our communities and jobs in those communities.”

Over the next fortnight, eligible irrigators will receive a letter of offer for water shares, proportional to their delivery shares in the MID. Those holding delivery shares in the MID have contributed towards the cost of the upgrades. To receive the shares, the forms must be signed and returned with the letter of offer by early Jan 2018.

When all the responses have been received, SRW expects to register the shares early in the new year.   For further information, please see Water Share Distribution or call 1300 159 310.

Information sessions:

Tue 12 Dec, 10.30am-1.30pm, DEDJTR Maffra office, 1 Stratford Road, Maffra – (Being held in conjunction with AgVic’s info session on irrigation incentives) – light lunch included

Thu 14 Dec, 7.30pm-9pm, Tinamba Community Meeting Room – light refreshments

Wed 20 Dec, 10.15am-12noon, Bundalaguah Hall – light refreshments