Water is in great demand

Tristan WheelerManjimup-Bridgetown Times
Dion Range, DPIRD's Jenni Boyle, scheme project officer Tina Buckley and scheme CEO Jeremy Bowwer at the forum.
Camera IconDion Range, DPIRD's Jenni Boyle, scheme project officer Tina Buckley and scheme CEO Jeremy Bowwer at the forum. Credit: Manjimup-Bridgetown Times

Manjimup residents had the chance to hear from the Southern Forests Irrigation Co-operative at a community forum at the Manjimup Town Hall on Thursday.

Co-operative chairman Harvey Giblett, chief executive Jeremy Bowwer, director David Pottinger and Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development project officer Jenni Boyle were in attendance to answer questions, alongside co-operative project officer Tina Buckley.

Not everyone who attended the forum was for the Southern Forests Irrigation Scheme, with a number of attendees questioning the proposal.

“There was a bit of a split, I think it’s fair to say there was a number that had concerns about the project,” Mr Bowwer said.

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“Certainly there were a couple from the West Manjimup area, we won’t change their minds.”

Brad Wren — a farmer from West Manjimup — attended the forum and said his concerns related to the source of the water to the scheme.

“There are alternative schemes that could actually operate and not put as much pressure on the environment, the environment is the most important thing we’ve got,” he said.

“The crux of the whole thing is where the water is coming from.”

The scheme is currently taking expressions of interest for an additional 1.7 GL of water from the scheme.

Mr Bowwer said they had received overwhelming interest in purchasing the additional water.

“We’ve actually experienced overwhelming demand for the remaining water and that’s still with two weeks to go before the applications close, so there is certainly overwhelming demand for the remaining water, right across the span of the region,” he said.

“It will be really good for the government to get their head around and see this huge demand and spread of farmers wanting water security and further water.”

Mr Bowwer said the reason for the second rounds of expressions of interest was to demonstrate the demand for water to the government.

“This EOI was for us and the government to understand where the demand is and how much demand is in this community,” he said.

“We want to be presenting to the government that people clearly want more water out here, and so we want to be able to try to provide it to them.

“The reason we wanted to assess the last water release was because we already had people registering their interest during the year.”

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