Wins for all under new water plan

Irrigators, local rivers and the Gippsland Lakes are all winners under a new plan unveiled last week at the Newry Hall.

More than 50 people, including local irrigators and representatives from government agencies were on hand to launch the Lake Wellington Land and Water Management Plan on Wednesday, 27 February.

The plan aims to improve farm productivity and profitability, while protecting the waterways and lakes in Gippsland’s premier irrigation region.

West Gippsland Catchment Management Authority (WGCMA), in partnership with Southern Rural Water (SRW) and Agriculture Victoria, developed the Lake Wellington Land and Water Management Plan with extensive input from the local irrigation community, industry and government.

Chief Executive Officer, Martin Fuller, said the document sets out a 10-year plan for how to manage irrigation farms.

“This is a real plan to improve the productivity and profitability of farms, and care for the environment,” Mr Fuller said.

“It’s forward-looking and lays out the programs we want to run with and for farmers.”

Local irrigators Graeme Anderson, Kate Mirams and Casey and Jason Birmingham had input into the plan and were part of a discussion panel at the launch. Michael Evans, Farm Manager, Mulgowie Farming Co was also part of the panel.  They were joined by Gavin Prior (Southern Rural Water) and Gavan Lamb, who worked for the Sustainable Irrigation Program for 20 years.

The panel discussed changes to the region as well as sharing their experience as irrigators.

The Lake Wellington Land and Water Management Plan replaces the existing Macalister Land and Water Management Plan.

“There have been a lot of changes in water use efficiency since the Macalister plan was developed 10 years ago and irrigators have made a lot of positive changes in the way they manage farms,” said SRW Managing Director Cameron FitzGerald.

“Modernisation has provided the opportunity for farms to move to best practice irrigation, supported by our agencies working together.”

“This plan is appropriate for the current conditions,” agreed WGCMA’s Martin Fuller.

“It looks at how we can reduce the amount of nutrients entering our rivers, which will help prevent algal blooms and the associated environmental issues.

“It will help protect rivers, wetlands and the Gippsland Lakes and help manage the impacts of salinity and high-water tables,” Mr Fuller continued.

“This, in turn, will protect the natural, cultural and social assets of the region for future generations.”

The plan has also been expanded to cover the whole of the Lake Wellington catchment.

“This means that anything that runs into the Lakes from irrigation could potentially have access to the programs outlined in the Plan,” explained Mr Fuller.

“The focus has also been broadened out from dairy to include other industries, particularly horticulture.”

It is a state government requirement that Land and Water Management Plans are developed for irrigation districts in Victoria.

Copies of the Lake Wellington Land and Water Management Plan are available at www.wgcma.vic.gov.au.

The Lake Wellington Land and Water Management Plan was developed by the West Gippsland Catchment Management Authority through funding from the Victorian State Government.

Representatives at the launch of the Lake Wellington Land and Water Management Plan
L-R Panel members and officials at the launch of the Lake Wellington Land and Water Management Plan Jason Bermingham, Caitlin Pilkington, Casey Bermingham, Michael Evans, Kate Mirams, Martin Fuller, Graeme Anderson. Gavan Lamb and Shayne Hyman.