Work is progressing well on the feasibility study we’re leading that will inform discussions around the potential to develop irrigated agriculture in the area east of the Avon River. This initiative is supported by Action 7-2 within the Central and Gippsland Sustainable Water Strategy.
Since starting this project in September 2022, we’ve held four well-attended meetings with our customer and stakeholder reference group to ensure diverse voices and local knowledge is considered as part of this study.
We now understand how much water can be potentially delivered to an expanded area, and the storage requirements to ensure reliability can be maintained.
Studies show to deliver 6 gigalitres (GL) of water to the area east of the Avon River, almost 2GL of storage is required. The project is now exploring the functional design options, including the size of a publicly funded balancing storage.
At this stage, we’re assessing three different design options, all based on a balancing storage capacity of 125 megalitres (ML). This means that to ensure 6GL can be delivered reliably, irrigators would need to make sure they have suitable on-farm storage to make up the storage shortfall.
We are currently completing work to understand the potential for flow recovery in the Avon River either by irrigation water source substitution (i.e. irrigators only use their Avon River entitlement as back up because they have access to a higher reliability supply), or direct benefit (additional water released into the river). So far, investigations suggest there is scope to improve flows in the Avon with the proposed scheme.
We have completed a desktop assessment around the potential to use the Avon River as a conduit to supply additional water to boost irrigation in the shorter term while we continue to assess the potential for a pipeline delivery network. We found this wasn’t feasible for several reasons, the main one being that it’s not supported by current Government policy.
Once the preferred design option is identified, we will work through the environmental planning, cultural heritage, and economic assessments and hope to complete this by the middle of the year.
For further information about this project visit our Macalister Avon project page.