SOUTH Gippsland farmers have united to seek a solution to the water problems gripping parts of coastal areas of the district.
While ‘Water Crisis’ and ‘South Gippsland’ are not topics you would expect to see together, the past year has been very different to most.
Normally reliable rainfall in the Inverloch area fell to almost half the annual average in 2015 according the Bureau of Meteorology figures.
Following the GippsDairy ‘Tactics for Dry Times’ water meeting on December 16, the Inverloch Water Cluster was formed.
The Inverloch Water Cluster involves seven dairy farms in close proximity.
In setting up the cluster, the group calculated how much water was required for each of the herds.
The extensive and specific design work resulted in a complex pumping design.
The design has required the cooperation of a number of land holders, government bodies and government departments.
The pipeline involves four pumps and more than 14km of high grade, 90mm diameter poly pipe.
Costs so far have exceeded $140,000 before any water has been pumped.
On top of this more than 900 hours of labour were required to lay and join the pipe.
The source of the water is the disused Inverloch water basin.
The water held in the infrastructure, which has not been used for over 15 years, cannot be used as part of the reticulated water supply system as there is no way of transferring it to the water treatment plant in its present state and it is not suitable for human consumption.
Managing director of South Gippsland Water, Philippe du Plessis said a collective approach to water use and drought relief across the region was important.
“We are keen to be innovative and supportive of the community in these dry times.”
When operational, the pumps and pipeline will be delivering almost seven litres per second to cope with the requirements of the dairy cows, which can reach 150 litres per day per cow.
GippsDairy director Edwin Vandenberg said the Inverloch farmers are extremely grateful to South Gippsland Water for allowing access to the water and preventing what could have been a terrible situation.
“The water and pipeline is providing water for 3500 dairy animals and protecting dozens of employee jobs and families’ livelihoods,” Mr Vandenberg said.
“Cluster members have certainly learnt from the lessons of a drier 2014, followed by no rainfall runoff in 2015.”
“They are already thinking and planning their on farm water catchment and storage to prevent this issue from ever happening again on their farms.”
More water restrictions likely
NO rain was recorded at South Gippsland Water’s storages to February 12, placing extra pressure on reservoirs.
Philippe du Plessis, South Gippsland Water’s managing director said Stage 1 water restrictions were imminent for Poowong, Loch and Nyora, while Fish Creek was likely to move on to Stage 2 water restrictions soon.
“During this time of dry climate conditions, no rainfall over the past week and continuing demand on water storages has resulted in a one to three per cent drop in storage levels compared with the previous week’s figures,” Mr du Plessis said.
“We are monitoring all storages closely, in particular the smaller systems with Stage 1 water restrictions imminent for the Little Bass water supply system that services Poowong, Loch and Nyora.
“The Battery Creek system, servicing Fish Creek, is likely to move to Stage 2 water restrictions in the coming weeks.”
“We urge all customers to continue to use household water wisely in these dry times.”
Information regarding Permanent Water Saving Rules, which apply across the region, and Stage 1 water restrictions, which are currently in force for Korumburra and Fish Creek, can be found at www.sgwater.com.au.
Capacity levels are: Lance Creek (Wonthaggi, Inverloch) 70 per cent; Ruby Creek (Leongatha) 56 per cent; Coalition Creek (Korumburra) 60 per cent; Foster Dam 82 per cent; Little Bass 57 per cent; Battery Creek 58 per cent.