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Winter season outlook: planning for a warmer winter

3 June 2024 | News
3 June 2024

A dry autumn has seen customers irrigating late into the season, to ensure pasture, crop and seed growth is maintained coming into a winter season that is forecast to be warmer than usual, particularly in the southwest. 

Groundwater and rivers customers have been challenged by the dry weather. In the south west, early autumn rain was soon followed by a prolonged dry spell, which slowed seed and pasture growth, and had customers dipping into their allocations. For south west limestone groundwater users, the extended season will mean a reduced carry-over allocation. 

South west customers are advised that our team is working diligently on licence renewals and applications requiring an update. Our team has also started to read meters across the region and will soon start inspections of potentially hazardous private dams. 

WestVic Dairy will be surveying farmers in the Heytesbury region to better understand local needs and concerns, including water availability, so customers should keep an eye out for that. 

The weather situation for groundwater and rivers customers in Gippsland has been mixed, with west and south Gippsland relatively unaffected while east Gippsland users have seen lower than average rainfall.  

Should the dry weather continue into winter, a ban on the pumping of winterfill water on the Mitchell River may come into effect from 1 July. Should there be restrictions, licence holders should call their local roster hotline or field officer for information on restrictions in their area. Meter reads are also underway in Gippsland. 

Customers are reminded they are responsible for managing water use and tracking their entitlement, and of Southern Rural Water’s zero tolerance to water theft. Several investigations are currently underway for non-compliance. 

Customers in the Macalister Irrigation District have been irrigating consistently throughout autumn in response to the dry weather, and our staff have been working hard to deliver on the high volume of water orders. 

Winter will be a busy time in the district as we embark on a busy winter works program and a water auction on Wednesday, 26 June to sell 1,000 megalitres of high reliability and 441 megalitres of low reliability water shares in the Macalister Irrigation District system. This is a great opportunity for customers in the Macalister looking to bolster their water supplies or expand their farming operations.  

It has been a dry autumn for customers in the Werribee and Bacchus Marsh irrigation districts, and for Werribee irrigators it was complicated by recycled water supply issues related to the presence of blue green algae. A dry winter will mean demand continues to be high, and the new season opening allocation and carryover is expected to be lower than the previous year.  

Winter works have started in both districts, with Stage 5 modernisation works underway in Werribee and the Maddingley Pump Station in Bacchus Marsh getting a new pump.