Persistence pays off

Water-logged paddocks and ruined pastures will cease to be problems for a group of Naring farmers, after work started on their new community irrigation drain.

The group of committed landowners has campaigned for more than a decade to see the community drain built.

It was next in line when the program, which funded community drains, was scaled back several years ago during the millennium drought.

Goulburn Broken Catchment Management Authority’s Sustainable Irrigation Manager Carl Walters said the group continued to lobby local politicians despite a number of setbacks and the dry conditions.

“You’ve really got to hand it to these guys. They worked effectively together as a group and never stopped pushing,” Mr Walters said.

He said the works had been designed to hold a certain amount of rain water in a sub-catchment until there was available outfall.

“And then the water will flow away. So instead of sitting on these farmers paddocks for three months, it might only be there for a couple of weeks,” he said.

Goulburn Murray Water’s Carolyn Nigro congratulated the group and said the Muckatah Drain 2/3P, as it’s known, is the first drain of its kind since funding had been available again.

“They’ve been very proactive to make sure they were first cab off the rank when the renewed drainage program started up,” Ms Nigro said.

“It’s very exciting for the landowners and also for us at Goulburn Murray Water to see action actually happening at the site after all this time,” she said.

Naring dairy farmer Bryan Shannon said waterlogged paddocks had destroyed many of his crops over the years.

“It’s hard to believe now with things being so dry but I can tell you that my paddocks can be covered in a metre of water,” Mr Shannon said.

“Instead of having to physically pump the water off the farm, it will now just naturally drain away as it falls and won’t cause us any problems,” he said.

Neighbour Donald Bell said he was looking forward to bumper crops without the threat of damage from water-logging.

“Most of our pastures are self-generating and the excess water kills a lot of the seed, meaning you’ve got to resow, which is a big expense,” Mr Bell said.

Rebecca Pike from Agriculture Victoria said the design of the drain’s path was diverted in order to protect culturally significant scar trees and remnant vegetation.

“It’s a real balancing act, which is why these drains can take a long time get off the ground,” Ms Pike said.

“We have to communicate with the landowners and make sure the work fits their needs as well as the satisfying the cultural, engineering and environmental requirements.”