Planning for the future

Monday 21 November, 2022
Planning is underway for the renewal of the Shepparton Irrigation Region Land and Water Management Plan. A workshop about the Plan, set for November, was rescheduled to February 2023. SIRPPIC members Kelvin Bruce and Heather du Vallon have kicked off discussion about the strategy and the need to plan for the future.

The recent and continued flooding across the region reinforces the need for an effective, over-arching land and water management plan, according to Lancaster farmer Kelvin Bruce.

Mr Bruce is the chair of the Shepparton Irrigation Region People and Planning Integration Committee (SIRPPIC), which is in the process of renewing the Shepparton Irrigation Region Land and Water Management Plan (SIRLWMP).

He said the floods, which have ravaged crops right across the region, only serve to underscore the importance of the SIRLWMP.

“For example, we’ve seen with the recent floods that a well-planned drainage system is essential,” he said.

“The region has endured 20 years of drought so it’s easy to forget that functional drainage becomes crucial during events like this.”

The SIRLWMP has been in place to manage the region’s land and water resources for more than 30 years.

Mr Bruce said the plan was developed in response to serious salinity issues in the 1980s and 90s.

“We’re certain the plan has had a very positive impact on our irrigated landscape but it’s time to start planning for the next 30 years.”

Mr Bruce said now was the ideal time to capture the community’s thoughts about shaping the plan for the future.

“There’s a lot of frustration and hurt out there at the moment but we need to get above that and look at the situation with clear eyes and a longer lens.”

SIRPPIC member and retired dairy farmer Heather du Vallon said it was important to get broad input to the renewal of the plan.

“We need a variety of voices coming from different positions to develop a successful plan,” Ms du Vallon said.

She said the plan was a flexible strategy designed to protect the region’s productivity and natural assets.

“We have to look at the overall environment, not just what the weather is doing. The weather is different from the climate.

 The weather comes and goes and we’ve got to have a plan that covers all eventualities-flood, drought and everything in between.”

Due to the floods, a workshop to inform the plan’s renewal has been rescheduled to February next year.

Example of poor drianage near Waranga Basin.