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Western Irrigation Futures

The Western Irrigation Futures project was launched by Southern Rural Water in response to the ongoing shortages of water facing the Werribee and Bacchus Marsh Irrigation Districts.

Purpose of the Project

Southern Rural Water established the Western Irrigation Futures project to review the best way forward for the Bacchus Marsh and Werribee Irrigation District.

The project considered a full range of factors, including:

  • Water resource availability, quality and security
  •  Agronomy
  •  Infrastructure efficiency and cost
  •  Market parameters
  •  Environmental implications, and
  • Social and community issues.


Stages of the Project

The project involved several stages:

Stage one – Atlas
Development of an of the two districts to set a common understanding of the areas for discussion.

Stage two – Options Paper

  •  A number of technical workshops to capture detailed technical information on possible options
  •  A series of customer workshops to seek suggestions on possible water supply options and delivery system improvements for consideration

An Options Paper to explore options to improve the viability of Werribee and Bacchus Marsh Irrigation Districts which included:

  •  Consulting with customers on those options to gain their views and further suggestions
  • Developing a strategy that outlines the preferred options for Werribee and Bacchus Marsh emerging from the options paper for further consideration and evaluation.

Stage three – Strategy
The WIF Strategy outlines the proposed path forward for the Werribee and Bacchus Marsh Irrigation Districts. The main features of the strategy included:

  •  Development of a business case for Werribee to support infrastructure improvement
  •  A Bacchus Marsh feasibility study to explore a reconfiguration option for the district, and
  •  Development of an individual carryover arrangement for the Werribee system.


Where are we now?

With the Western Irrigation Futures project complete, Southern Rural Water is pursuing a number of actions.

Bacchus Marsh
We have completed a Cost and Feasibility Study which showed that the cost of modernising the Bacchus Marsh irrigation District was technically possible, but the cost is about $18m, which is beyond the irrigators’ capacity to pay. SRW is exploring options for financial contribution from other stakeholders for the project.
We continue to explore opportunities for alternative water supplies for the district.
We have planned a number of works to reduce risk of channel failure in Water Plan 3, and continue work to explore opportunities to reconfigure the supply system to reduce losses and improve its performance.

We have completed an options analysis on the relative benefits of piping and lining, which will form part of a future submission for funding. In the meantime, we have budgeted to upgrade the 4/1 system during Water Plan 3 which starts the modernisation of the district.

New long term recycled water contracts have been offered to customers and entered into by the majority of customers. We are now supplying under the new arrangements.

Carryover of unused water entitlements
We are continuing to evaluate the potential models for individual carryover of river water supplies, which will be discussed with our customers in the future.

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