Water plan to flow on to growers

Tari JeffersManjimup-Bridgetown Times

A $19 million investment in water security has the potential for a $100 million agricultural and horticultural production boost as part of a proposed irrigation scheme in the Southern Forests region.

The Southern Forests Water Futures project funding is an addition to $3.6 million allocated when the scheme was announced in April, 2015.

The proposed scheme has already received $10 million in support from almost 100 properties in the region and includes the dam, a pipeline and pumping infrastructure.

Regional Development Minister Terry Redman made the funding announcement at the Southern Forests Food Council end-of-year wind up in Manjimup on Friday.

“If you inject 15 gigalitres of water into the system with a network that could be up to 250km of irrigation pipe moving water around the district, you can potentially get over $100 million of extra economic production out of this area,” he said.

“The growers have been really driving this up, they’ve come on board and put their own skin in the game,” he said.

Project steering committee chairman and fruit grower Harvey Giblett agreed with the $100 million figure and said avocados “could do that in their own right in the future” and “about 50” other products grown in the region would be a further boon to the industry.

“It’s all about water security and drought-proofing the area,” he said.

“This will provide a 95 per cent reliability for water supply and take water to places that have never had water.”

Agriculture Minister Mark Lewis said he would be “putting his shoulder to the wheel” to get the Federal Government on board to deliver the nation-building project.

O’Connor MHR Rick Wilson said he had been briefed by the Department of Water in relation to the $500 million National Water Infrastructure Development Fund.

“It’s a highly competitive fund that covers the whole country, but I’ll be going in to bat for O’Connor and doing everything I can to help this project get off the ground,” he said.

“This is a transformational project for the Manjimup region and I’m very keen to see it come to fruition.”

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