The Weekly Advertiser

Praiseworthy pipeline

Catchment leaders have joined regional celebrations in a countdown to the completion of the multi-million-dollar Wimmera Mallee Pipeline project.
They have described the milestone as the perfect springboard for regional environmental and socio-economic sustainability and development.
Wimmera Catchment Management Authority chief executive Marc Thompson said piping a vast area of western Victoria represented the critical building block in establishing new levels of water security and water-use efficiency.
“It’s fantastic and is already dramatically reducing water waste on a vast scale. After more than a decade of drought, having security in supply for communities and improving the environment and region as a whole are more important than ever,” he said.
Mr Thompson agreed the pipeline was great cause to celebrate. But he added an air of caution, reminding people that rain in the catchment remained the simple but critical element in gaining full benefits from the project.
He said information in a draft Western Region Sustainable Water Strategy, released last week, was a timely reminder of how important it would be to creatively balance the needs of all water users.
“Climate-change predictions indicate we will have considerably less water than in the past and water-use and application will demand careful and well-balanced scrutiny and management,” he said.
“We can’t underplay the importance of this project. And in reality, it is more of a launching pad than a magic bullet in establishing sustainable water use across the region.”
The State Government’s draft Western Region Sustainable Water Strategy, which has involved the collaboration of several agencies and interest groups, clearly defines key principles needed to secure the region’s water future. These include maximising efficiency and seeking multiple benefits, maximising environmental outcomes and making socially responsible decisions.
Mr Thomson emphasised that climate indicators reinforced the belief that the project had evolved into as much of a regional socio-economic and environmental necessity as it was a developmental tool.
“There’s no doubt piped water will provide much-needed economic and business opportunities across the region. But there is also no doubt the environment and river communities in the lower catchment must have their share,” he said.
Mr Thompson also reminded people that safeguarding the environmental integrity of the Wimmera River and its terminal lakes system had secured government backing for the pipeline project.
“We can’t forget that projected environmental benefits of water-saving through pipeline development clinched the deal,” he said.
“In fact, all government funding, which equates to more than two thirds of the project cost, was based on achieving environmental outcomes and benefits. And what became obvious after a flow last year, is that a healthy, vibrant Wimmera River system provides an economic boost in its own right.”
Figures in the draft water strategy reveal the Wimmera catchment has experienced a dramatic reduction in stream-flow averages in the last 13 years. Between 1997 and 2008, the catchment had an 83 percent reduction in flows compared with long-term averages.

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Posted on Mar 24 2010

Posted by on Mar 24 2010. Filed under Environment. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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