Good news in the pipeline for Southern Forests
A $19 million funding boost from the Royalties for Regions to further develop an irrigation scheme around Manjimup and Pemberton was big news in the Southern Forests on the eve of the annual Cherry festival.
Regional Development Minister Terry Redman was on hand with Agriculture and Food Minister Mark Lewis to announce the state government’s commitment to build on its investment of $3.6 million in the Southern Forests Water Futures project as part of the Water for Food program.
Developed in consult with local irrigators, the proposed scheme will capture water in winter, to be redistributed in winter and summer, to sites that currently do not have access to sufficient high-quality water, or do not have the capacity to capture water.
The proposal has been strongly endorsed by local growers who have registered $10 million in support of the scheme via a formal 'Letter of Intent' process.
Mr Redman said the Southern Forests had become one of the most significant horticultural areas in the southern half of the state generating an estimated $138 million in 2013.
"Based on the high level of grower demand, the proposed irrigation scheme will cost an estimated $80 million and involve the construction of a new 15 gigalitre dam, pipeline and pumping infrastructure," Mr Redman said.
"The state government is now in the process of applying for Commonwealth funding. Depending on the level of funding secured, the project could be rescaled and delivered in stages."
Water Minister Mia Davies said the funding boost was critical in helping to address current water constraints to expansion of agriculture in the region.
"The proposed scheme will modernise distribution and accessibility of irrigation water in the area, facilitating a trading environment," Ms Davies said.
"It is proposed the scheme will be industry led by a private entity or co-operative. The state government will assist in the development of governance and financial models for the proposed scheme."
Agriculture and Food Minister Mark Lewis said the Southern Forest Irrigation Scheme project would reduce the risk for on farm investment and help growers move to higher value horticulture production in the state.
The Southern Forests irrigation Scheme project is a key component of the Water for Food program under the $350 million Royalties for Regions Seizing the Opportunity Agriculture initiative.
For more information please visit the the Southern Forests Irrigation Scheme project page.