Water funding to unlock ag potential

Water funding to unlock ag potential

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Plans to build a new dam and 250 kilometres of pipeline infrastructure for the Southern Forests Irrigation Scheme have been boosted by a promised $39.7 million from the National Water Infrastructure Development Fund.

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PLANS to build a new dam and 250 kilometres of pipeline infrastructure for the Southern Forests Irrigation Scheme have been boosted by a promised $39.7 million from the National Water Infrastructure Development Fund (NWIDF).

Deputy Prime Minister, The Nationals' leader and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development, Michael McCormack, announced the funding during a visit to Perth on Sunday and Monday.

Mr McCormack said the project would be funded as part of the government's "historic investment" to deliver secure water supplies to unlock agricultural potential via the $1.3 billion NWIDF.

"The Liberal and Nationals government is determined to unlock the economic potential of our regions and we know often the answer is simply, 'just add water'," Mr McCormack said.

"I am proud the Liberals and The Nationals are backing farmers in the Manjimup-Pemberton region and this project has the potential of opening up 1675 hectares of farmland for high-value irrigated horticulture."

O'Connor MP Rick Wilson said it was an important water project for the Southern Forest food bowl region.

"I've been working with the proponents for some time and I have been a strong advocate for the scheme in Canberra," Mr Wilson said.

"I brought assistant Agriculture and Water Resources Minister Richard Colbeck to Manjimup last month to meet with the scheme proponents and ensure the project was front and centre in the minds of the decision makers.

"The Southern Forest region is a major food producer for WA so it's essential to guarantee water resources into the future."

Following assessment by an independent panel, the Federal and State governments will work together to finalise delivery milestones to ensure the project is under construction as soon as possible, Mr McCormack and Mr Wilson said.

The proposed scheme will comprise a 15 gigalitre dam constructed on Record Brook, a Donnelly River tributary, and a 250 kilometre pipeline distribution network that will supply water to irrigators who have purchased a water entitlement for the scheme.

High quality and reliable water for the scheme will be supplied from peak winter flows in the Donnelly River and the scheme will be designed to ensure environmental flows in the catchment are retained.

The scheme will be owned and operated by the Southern Forests Irrigation Co-operative Ltd and all scheme water users will be cooperative members who can buy and trade water.

The scheme is estimated to cost $80 million.

The State government has committed $19 million, with a further $10 million registered by local growers who want to be part of the scheme.

Applications for funds from the NWIDF closed last month.

Information on the fund is available at infrastructure.gov.au/infrastructure/water-infrastructure/nwi-development-fund/.

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