UPDATE – 5pm
The Coalition have raised doubts about the seriousness of the state government’s partial funding.commitment to the East Grampians pipeline extension.
On Monday, Victorian Water Minister Lisa Neville said the state government would commit $32 million towards the project’s $82.5m total cost.
“The Andrews Labor Government had every opportunity to ensure this project would be fully funded, but Lisa Neville hasn’t even made an application to the Federal Government,” state opposition water spokesperson Steph Ryan said.
“This project is vital to improved water security for East Grampians communities and I know the Andrews Government’s failure to even submit the project for funding will be a serious blow.”
The business case for construction of an East Grampians rural pipeline was completed by Grampians Wimmera Mallee Water last year.
The business case found the project would increase productivity and diversity across agricultural sectors, enhance community wellbeing, provide a reliable water supply for fire-fighting and reduce pressures on the already highly stressed natural catchments.
State Ripon MP Louise Staley said the project was vital to drought-proofing the Grampians Region and the state government’s lack of federal funding application was “disappointing”.
“It is time (Victorian Premier) Daniel Andrews behaved collaboratively with Canberra for the benefit of the regional and Victoria,” Ms Staley said.
Earlier – 11:15am
The state government will contribute $32 million towards the East Grampians Pipeline extension project that is designed to improve water reliability for farms and towns from Great Western to Streatham.
Victorian Water Minister Lisa Neville announced on Monday morning that the state budget 2018/19 would provide some of the funding for project and will lobby the federal government to meet the $82.5 million total.
Ms Neville joined with Dobie and Ballyrogan farmers, Grampians Wimmera Mallee Water, and Ararat Rural City Council at Mount Langi Ghiran for the announcement.
Ms Neville said the “game changing” project, when fully funded and completed, would give farms and vineyards in the Grampians region a more secure water supply and reduce costs and improve productivity.
“This project absolutely stacks up. I was in the region on October last year to release the business case,” she said.
“The business case said there would be $215 million in economic benefit if we invest in this project. There are about 1500 enterprises that would benefit from this project.”
“That is a significant return to the community on this investment we are making.”
The East Grampians Pipeline calls for 1600 new kilometres of pipeline to service 530,000 hectares, including Ararat, Willaura, Tatyoon and Buangor.
Grampians Wimmera Mallee Water chairman Peter Vogel said he was an immediate need for the pipeline.
“The catchment dams are really getting low because of the lack of rain,” he said.
“What the pipeline does is it frees up water out of Mount Cole.
“The growth of this region will be like every other region we have piped, what is does is give security of supply. There is a lot of livestock down in this region and ti will secure their future.”
“Instead of de-stocking and getting more crops, they’ll be able to keep their stock. If you haven’’t got water, you can’t have stock.”
Ararat Rural City acting mayor Gwenda Allgood said it was absolutely fantastic to see the pipeline moving much closer to being built.
“This has been in the works for some time, for some years but to actually see it come to reality is absolutely wonderful,” she said,
“It is going to benefit the wineries and the farmers along the line.
“Now all we need to do is get the federal money and we’ll be underway.”
Ballyrogan cropping and sheep farmer Dan Jess said having the extended pipeline would help his property during dry periods.
“It’s pretty exciting. It will save us a lot of time and stress from not having to cart water and source water to cart, which has been a bit of a problem.” he said.
“It will also lead to an increase in productivity, being able to put stock where we want them rather than where the water is.”
Mr Jess said the pipeline could also allow new types of farming in the region.
“I’m no expert on that, but I’d say it would probably open up opportunities for feedlots, piggeries and perhaps even poultry.”
MORE TO COME