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Strategic water projects update

28 May 2024 | News
28 May 2024

Securing water supply and exploring alternative water sources in our irrigation districts is one of our key strategic priorities. And we’re working on two projects in the Macalister Irrigation Area and the Werribee Irrigation District that will allow us to do this. 

In the east, work is well underway on our region-building water strategy called Macalister Fresh. The strategy will deliver a plan that unlocks more economic, cultural and environmental opportunities from irrigation modernisation works already completed, and in the future through to 2050. 

Launched in September 2023, a power of work has gone into completing phase one of the project which involved developing a vision for Macalister Irrigation Area (to be released soon). 

Over the past six months we’ve engaged customers, businesses, government agencies, traditional owners, the community and our own team through workshops and surveys to really understand what they want the Macalister Irrigation Area, the Latrobe River and Avon River areas to look like in the future. 

We have also recruited a stakeholder reference group to represent the diverse interests of the region and support us deliver the Macalister Fresh project. Appointments to the reference group were based on skills and expertise. 

Their roll involves providing guidance to us in developing investment priorities and decision-making frameworks that are robust and fit-for-purpose, and providing information and local knowledge to inform outcomes that are inclusive and technically sound. 

Key themes emerged from our extensive consultation that included increasing water storage and security, completing modernisation in the Macalister Irrigation District and improving on-farm water practices, supporting social and cultural water needs and ensuring industry and government working in partnership to minimise bureaucracy. 

We have distilled all the feedback we’ve received into a vision statement with four key pillars around regional water resilience, best practice and innovation, great partnership, and the value of reliable and secure water management in Gippsland.  

We believe including stakeholders in discussions from the start means the vision is representative and will ensure better project outcomes. 

The Macalister Fresh vision and pillars underpin our strategy and crystallise the collective priorities of stakeholders to allows us to make decisions in line with what we all want to achieve. We will be releasing the vision soon.   

Work has started on phase two of the project and we are on track to completing all four phases mid-next year.  

In the west, we’re forging ahead with the Werribee System Reconfiguration Project that aims examine how potable, river and recycled water might in future be used in the Werribee River system.  

Following a rigorous Expression of Interest process, we have appointed a reference group of Werribee irrigators to support the project team to better understand customer needs and requirements. We have also appointed a specialist consultant to help us deliver a series of meetings in 2024 with our customer reference group and facilitate conversations about the project. 

The customer reference group has met three times this year and is proving valuable for working through topics in an open and transparent way. Already, we have gained real clarity on customer’s expectations and their water requirements for growing food now and in the future.  

We have heard that water security, reliability of supply and water quality are vital to enable future crop production in the Werribee Irrigation District. We’ve also heard that competitive water pricing and robust water delivery redundancy is critical for irrigators. We are committed to working through these items with our customers and partner agencies to deliver a reconfiguration proposal that provides customer value and confidence. 

You can read our customer reference group meeting notes if you would like more in depth information about the conversations we’re having about the Werribee System Reconfiguration.