An independent review into an $80 million irrigation scheme causing controversy in the State’s south has been welcomed by those on both sides of the fence. The CSIRO has been called in by the State Government to investigate the climate and catchment modelling used in the Southern Forests Irrigation Scheme, with the peak science body to start the review in a matter of weeks. It comes after growers raised concerns with Agriculture Minister Alannah MacTiernan during a visit to Manjimup this month. “We know this is a contentious project in the Manjimup community,” she said. “We all want to maximise our understanding of what the future is likely to hold. “DPIRD is working with CSIRO to establish a contract for an independent senior hydrologist to carry out a review of the water modelling in the scheme.” The terms of reference will include reviewing assumptions in existing water modelling, climate change, run-off rates and groundwater retention. The scheme would involve building a 15GL dam 3km east of the middle Donnelly River to capture winter flows to supply water through a 250km pipe network to about 100 farms. It has received backlash from some members of the community citing environmental and agricultural concerns, sparking protests and an online petition which has garnered almost 9000 signatures. Manjimup Water Security Group chair John Kilrain — a turf and corn grower in west Manjimup — said the group had several concerns with the Department of Water and Environmental Regulation’s modelling. “It would need to rain more in the next 10 years than it has in the last 10 years (for it to be correct),” he said. “We’re very pleased to see the Minister has listened to what we’ve been saying.” In a statement, Mr Kilrain said the modelling used presented a “worst-case scenario” as a 3 per cent decline in streamflow over 30 years, which contradicted the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development website, which stated median streamflow was projected to decline by 24 per cent by 2030. Southern Forests Irrigation Co-operative chief executive Jeremy Bower said they had received correspondence from DWER that the modelling — which was designed in 2017 — was “fit-for-purpose” and used the “best science of the time”.