Southern Rural Water, in partnership with the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) is investigating the potential to develop irrigated agriculture in the area east of the Avon River, adjacent to the Macalister Irrigation District (MID). This initiative is supported by Action 7-2 within the Central and Gippsland Sustainable Water Strategy.
A feasibility study is being conducted as part of the Macalister Avon Irrigation Development Project that seeks to provide the technical evidence to inform discussions around future irrigation development and investment in the area.
This study will be guided by a set of principles that ensure decision making is sound, equitable and protects existing users including the environment and cultural needs. Within this, and in-line with the Central and Gippsland Sustainable Water Strategy, we are seeking quadruple bottom line outcomes.
A consortium led by SMEC will undertake assessments focussing on addressing the following areas:
- supply capacity, demand and storage requirements;
- estimating and/or describing potential flow recovery in the Avon River;
- functional design of pipe network, balancing storage and costings;
- environmental planning and assessment requirements;
- understanding potential service impacts on current customers;
- economics assessments, including cost/benefit analysis; and
- exploration of a non-infrastructure based option to identify opportunities, challenges and process requirements.
We have established a Customer and Stakeholder Reference Group to work with Southern Rural Water to draw upon local knowledge and expertise to support project outcomes.
Completion of this phase of work is expected by mid-2023, at which time Southern Rural Water, together with DELWP will review the findings and determine a pathway forward.
If findings are favourable, the next step would be to prepare a Department of Treasury and Finance (DTF) compliant business case that would address additional matters such as system operations, water allocation and tariffs.
This project is based on findings from preliminary feasibility studies (The Southern Victorian Irrigation Development Project) undertaken between 2016 and 2020.