Irrigation projects to support agriculture

Agricultural future: Two irrigation projects that are planned for the South West, including one to address salinity levels in Wellington Dam are yet to receive federal government backing. Photo: Collie Mail.
Agricultural future: Two irrigation projects that are planned for the South West, including one to address salinity levels in Wellington Dam are yet to receive federal government backing. Photo: Collie Mail.

Two irrigation projects that are planned for the region are yet to receive a financial backing commitment from the Federal Government, who have been called on to co-fund the projects. 

The state government has committed $56 million for the two irrigation projects which will secure sustainable water supply for growers and support agricultural jobs in the south west. 

Regional Development and Agriculture and Food Minister Alannah MacTiernan and Water Minister Dave Kelly are now calling on the Federal Government to confirm if it will co-fund these projects.

A projected $37 million will be invested in the Myalup-Wellington project, an industry-led initiative looking at solutions to lowering salinity levels at Wellington Dam. The estimated cost of the project is $380 million.

A total of $19 million will be invested in the Southern Forests Irrigation Scheme to further develop irrigation options around Manjimup and Pemberton.

The project will cost about $80 million. Local growers have registered $10 million in support for the scheme, with the remaining funding sought from the Federal Government.

Water Minister Dave Kelly wrote to Federal Agriculture and Water Resources Minister Barnaby Joyce last month confirming the State’s commitment to the projects ahead of a decision on both project’s applications to the National Water Infrastructure Development Fund.

Regional Development and Agriculture and Food Minister Alannah MacTiernan said the projects would encourage further investment in the region.

“Investment in irrigation technologies is critical in helping the South-West become more efficient with its water use to expand agriculture and horticulture in a drying climate.

“High-quality irrigation water will encourage investment in irrigated agriculture across the South-West region and open up new land for development.

“However, Federal Government co-investment is needed to get these projects off the ground  we look forward to Mr Joyce providing some clarity during his visit to WA next week.”

Water Minister Dave Kelly said access to safe and usable water is vital to help grow the regional economy. 

“Wellington Dam is the largest surface water storage in the South-West, but has been increasingly unusable because of high salinity,” he said. 

“The Southern Forests area is a significant horticultural area and allowing greater access to water will increase opportunities in the region.”

Federal Agriculture and Water Resources Minister Barnaby Joyce was contacted by the Mail for comment but did not respond prior to publication. 

The Myalup-Wellington Water for Food project was announced in December 2016.