HomeNewsDwindling rainfall sees Southern Forests Irrigation Scheme shelved, leaving WA farmers disillusioned

Dwindling rainfall sees Southern Forests Irrigation Scheme shelved, leaving WA farmers disillusioned


A multimillion-dollar irrigation scheme that was set to safe water for farmers within the WA’ South West has been scrapped after new modelling indicated predicted rainfall figures wouldn’t help its present incarnation. 

The Southern Forests Irrigation scheme was first mooted in 2014 with the broad aim of harnessing water from the Donnelly River for horticultural and agricultural manufacturing within the shire of Manjimup.

The scheme would have additionally seen the development of a collection of dams, water pipelines and related infrastructure at an estimated value of $70 million.

Nonetheless, opponents of the challenge raised doubts within the thoughts of the state authorities, who sought up to date modelling from the CSIRO earlier than withdrawing help for the scheme because it stood.

Western Australia’s Agriculture and Meals Minister Alannah MacTiernan mentioned the info revealed the “degree of water that was prone to be accessible turned out to be very a lot diminished and fewer dependable than beforehand thought”.

“This challenge has turn into very controversial locally, and we discover it could actually not be economically justified,” Ms MacTiernan mentioned.

“We perceive numerous farmers down there are very disillusioned, however we do additionally observe that this now offers us a chance to give you one thing that can work and develop extra concord inside the neighborhood.”

Alannah MacTiernan speaking.
WA Minister for Agriculture and Meals Alannah MacTiernan welcomes the proposal to section out caged eggs.(ABC Information: Keane Bourke)

State asks feds to go away cash on the desk

Crucial to the unique scheme was a $40 million pledge from the federal authorities, and efforts are underway to make sure the funding dedication stays on the desk.

“We’ve sought to have interaction the federal authorities on this and defined to them to maintain that cash for this space,” Ms MacTiernan mentioned.

“We identified that solely two per cent of the nationwide water fund has come to WA, and it might be extraordinarily egregious if any of that cash was taken from WA provided that we’re a 3rd of the continent.”

The rest of the funding for the challenge was to be sourced from the state authorities and as much as $10 million in pledges from the estimated 70 farmers who had opted in. They will now be eligible to opt-out of any future alternate options

Reference group seeks viable choices

Nominees at the moment are being sought to ascertain a reference group that can discover “broad bundle measures”, which might function an alternative choice to the scheme.

Manjimup farmer Bevan Eatts mentioned water safety was “entrance and centre of everybody’s minds” within the area.

An unsmiling heavyset man, balding, wears a blue fleece jacket and a black tee, stands in front of plants.
Bevan Eatts says water safety is a urgent situation for the area.(ABC South West: Georgia Hargreaves)

“I feel it should be exhausting to give you a scheme or some proposal that’s going to go well with everybody,” Mr Eatts mentioned.

“There’s all the time going to be one a part of the neighborhood that will not be pleased, however I am hoping the neighborhood attracts a line within the sand and now let’s all begin working collectively for one of the best final result.”

The reference group is predicted to be established by the top of October, with an interim report ready by February 2023.

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