Lake Wellington Land and Water Management Plan

We’ve been working with community, agencies and landowners to develop a new Land and Water Management Plan (LWMP) for sustainable irrigation in the Lake Wellington catchment. It will replace the 2008 Macalister LWMP and apply to irrigated land uses throughout the Lake Wellington catchment.

The consultation period has closed. We are now working on the final plan, which is due for release in the second half of 2018.
All enquiries should be directed to Caitlin Pilkington:
email CaitlinP@wgcma.vic.gov.au
PO Box 1374, Traralgon 3844
or phone 1300 094 262.

Jersey and Holstein cows standing in the paddock

Need

The state government requires Land and Water Management Plans be developed for irrigation districts in Victoria. They need to align to Water for Victoria and other regulatory requirements. They are regionally developed plans which will support and guide investment in the region, with the aim of facilitating irrigated agricultural development while continuing to improve the management of salinity, waterlogging and water quality risks from irrigation. The Lake Wellington LWMP is being developed in collaboration with community and agency partners including Agriculture Victoria, Southern Rural Water, the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP), Gippsland Water, and the Environmental Protection Authority. The plan development is funded by DELWP through the Sustainable Irrigation Program .

The Lake Wellington catchment is important because of it’s natural, economic, social and cultural values including:

  • productive land and water resources that support a thriving agricultural sector in the region
  • a strong and vibrant agriculture community
  • Lake Wellington, which is the western most lake in the large Gippsland Lakes system
  • major river systems including the Avon, Macalister, Latrobe and Thomson
  • Ramsar listed wetlands fringing Lake Wellington, including Dowds Morass, Clydebank Morass, Heart Morass and Sale Common
  • areas of remnant native vegetation including Holey Plains State Park, Glenmaggie Flora Reserve, Knob Reserve near Stratford and the Red Gum Reserve near Briagolong
  • significant Indigenous and European cultural heritage

The MID and other irrigation areas drain into these lakes, rivers and wetlands and reduces the quality of water entering these systems.

The Gippsland Lakes provide huge environmental, social and economic value to the Gippsland region. Excess nutrients are a major contributing factor to increasing the risk of algal blooms in the lakes. Irrigated and dryland agriculture contributes nutrients to the Lakes.

Salinity and waterlogging also threaten agriculture productivity and are key issues to continue to manage.

Vegetable irrigation

Planning

We reviewed the Macalister LWMP to help prepare for the development of the new Plan. The review described the plan’s achievements and the changing funding environment for irrigation land and water management programs, and suggested directions for developing the new plan.

Stakeholder Consultation

Since mid-2017, we’ve been talking to dairy and horticulture producers and some of their advisors in phone interviews and small, focus group workshops. Discussions have concentrated on sustainable irrigation practices, barriers and opportunities for adoption, how to support improved irrigation land and water management and how to work with irrigating producers to develop the Plan.

Additional consultation has been undertaken with irrigators in beef, sheep and potato industries to understand irrigation, nutrient and sediment management practices and discuss barriers and opportunities for irrigators to be engaged in the Lake Wellington LWMP.

We’ve also been talking with Gunaikurnai Aboriginal Land and Waters Corporation (GLaWAC) about cultural values and aspirations relating to the Lake Wellington catchment.

Consultation paper

A consultation paper was released to stimulate community discussions about the future of irrigation land and water management in Lake Wellington catchment. It described the context for the Plan and outlined its vision, objectives and targets. It provided a summary of the six major programs which will be delivered under the Plan and what these mean for irrigators, community and agencies.

Feedback on the draft plan and proposed programs was sought from irrigators, industry, community and agencies. The consultation period is now closed.

A Technical Working Group and a Stakeholder Advisory Group have been involved in the plan development and consultation.

Irrigation dam

Works

Nutrient pathways

A review was completed on the science and literature associated with the sources and sinks of nutrients and other pollutants in dairy and horticultural operations, and how they might be managed on and off-farm. The work has informed the development of programs and actions to be implemented under the Plan.

Whole farm planning review

Irrigation farm planning has been a key tool for landholder engagement in the Macalister LWMP. Development of the plan has provided irrigators with of a framework for improving farm layout and irrigation practice and access to incentives to support those changes. It has been an essential step in initiating a suite of practice and infrastructure changes which have helped to deliver improvements in irrigation efficiency and nutrient management.

A review was completed to help ensure irrigation whole farm planning supports and is relevant to the needs of the new Lake Wellington LWMP. It built on local experience and recent reviews of irrigation whole farm planning in the Goulburn Murray and Macalister Irrigation Districts.

Program development

Information from the Macalister LWMP review, engagement with dairy and horticultural producers and various workshops have been used to develop the proposed programs.

Outcomes

The Macalister Land and Water Management Plan, and its predecessors, have been operating for over 20 years. There has been a great deal of progress made in the MID and a number of important achievements.

The new plan is building on the achievements of the past and working to address current and future challenges and opportunities.

The plan aims to

  1. reduce nutrients and other pollutants to the Gippsland Lakes
  2. reduce the impact of salinity and waterlogging on agricultural land
  3. sustainable regional economic growth in the irrigation region
  4. increase energy efficiency and reduce emissions
  5. improve understanding and management of social values and indigenous values

The final plan will be available from mid 2018.

Images on this page are courtesy of the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning and Craig Moodie photography.

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