Valley

Celebrating a decade of smarter water use

Thursday 29 November, 2007
A decade of sustainable water use will be fittingly celebrated at the juncture of the Goulburn and Broken rivers tomorrow.

A decade of sustainable water use will be fittingly celebrated at the juncture of the Goulburn and Broken rivers tomorrow.

The Shepparton Irrigation Regional Implementation Committee's (SIRIC)* anniversary will also acknowledge the completion of the Irrigations Futures** project.

Among the SIRIC's achievements has been the reality that it has delivered an $18 million dollar annual program, which has been funded by the Victorian and Australian Governments.

Other achievements include:

  1. In all, 1595 whole farm plans have been completed for 116,850ha. It brings the total number of whole farm plans (prepared under this incentive since 1987) to 1940, spanning 131,425ha. It covers 42% of the irrigated part of the region.
  2. In nine years the surface drainage program has seen 105km of arterial drains and 478km of community drains built. Combined, they have provided drainage outfall for 63,00ha.
  3. Just as importantly from the perspective of the SIRIC is the significant benefit of these drains in community development. This is created by people working together on a mutual task for four to five years as they work towards its completion. Since 1988, there have been 251 drainage groups established in the SIR. The outcome of this sort of community involvement has healed many long term rifts and rebuilt social pride in these catchments.
  4. A revised surface drainage strategy (completed in 1995) has resulted in a major reduction in the cost of supplying surface drainage to the SIR.
  5. The Waterways Program in the SIR is now making tremendous strides, focusing on targeting specific reaches for the rivers and streams.
  6. In 1999, the SIR Implementation Committee was a finalist in the community group section of the Banksia Awards and its drainage program won the Institute Engineers Award for the environmentally sensitive design of the Muckatah Surface Water Management System.

The Irrigation Futures project has focussed on bringing key stakeholders (in irrigated agriculture and the regional community) together to develop a shared vision for the future of irrigation in the Goulburn Broken Catchment.

Operational Manager of the Irrigation Futures Project Leon Soste says the initiative has been a rich partnership between research and the stakeholder community.

"From a DPI perspective, it provides us with an excellent example of what can be achieved by working with the stakeholder community. The input of their experience, knowledge and values has allowed us to develop a far more balanced result than we could have achieved on our own. I am very thankful to stakeholders for their willingness to be involved," Mr Soste said.

"Friday is an opportunity to make dairy, horticulture and other industry groups, government agencies and the wider community aware of the vision and strategies that have been developed for irrigated agriculture in this region through the Irrigation Futures project."

"The Community of stakeholders and agencies can be confident that this work captures their vision and ideas for how, as a region, we need to prepare for the future," he said. "What we all need to do now is work together to put the strategies contained in this report into practice."

His comments were supported by the Irrigation Futures' Governance Committee chair, John Pettigrew.

"SIRIC also needs to be congratulated on its successful irrigation achievements over the last 10 years," said Mr Pettigrew.

The celebration will be held between 11.30am and 2pm behind the Victoria Lake Caravan Park (up from Aquamoves). All media are invited to attend.

*SIRIC sits under the Goulburn Broken CMA Board delivering natural resource management programs under the Shepparton Irrigation Region Catchment Strategy (SIR CS). Working Groups cover the four program areas overseen by the SIRIC - Farm and Environment; Sub-surface Drainage, Waterways and surface drainage. The Groups comprise agency staff and community members including representatives from Goulburn-Murray Water Service Committees, the Victorian Farmers Federation (VFF), local government and environment groups.

**Irrigation Futures of the Goulburn Broken Catchment is funded by the Department of Primary Industries, Department of Sustainability and Environment, Goulburn Broken Catchment Management Authority, Goulburn-Murray Water, the National Action Plan for Salinity and Water Quality, the CRC for Irrigation Futures and the National Program for Sustainable Irrigation.

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For more information and quotes please contact Stacey Brauman at Impress Publicity on 0400644637.