Response from Loddon Shire 2016 Response from Loddon Shire Council Mid term review of the GMW connections project stage 2 Loddon Shire Council rmcg.com.au

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  • January 2016

    Response from Loddon Shire Council Mid term review of the GMW connections project stage 2

    Loddon Shire Council

    rmcg.com.au

  • RMCG Bendigo:RMCG Client Files:CLAIRE F-38:L-Z:38-L-09 LSC Response to GMW Connections mid term review:REPORT:FINAL REPORT:LSC submission to mid term review_FINAL.docx

    This report has been prepared by:

    RMCG 135 Mollison Street, BENDIGO VIC 3550

    PO Box 2410, BENDIGO DC VIC 3554

    P: (03) 5441 4821 E: rm@rmcg.com.au

    W: www.rmcg.com.au

    ABN: 35 154 629 943

    Offices in Bendigo, Melbourne, Torquay, Warragul and Penguin (Tasmania)

    Key Project Contact Claire Flanagan-Smith M: 0427 679 044 E: clairef@rmcg.com.au

    Document review and authorisation

    Job Number: 38-L-07

    Doc. Version Final/Draft Date Author Reviewed by Quality check Release approved by Issued to Copies

    1.0 Early Draft 22.01.2016 C. Flanagan-Smith A. Kelliher P. Mawson A. Kelliher B. McEwan & J. McLinden, Loddon Shire

    1(e)

    2.0 Draft 28.01.2016 C. Flanagan-Smith A. Kelliher

    M. Shanahan P. Mawson A. Kelliher

    B. McEwan & J. McLinden, Loddon Shire

    1(e)

    3.0 Final 29.01.2016 C. Flanagan-Smith B. McEwan - A. Kelliher B. McEwan & J. McLinden, Loddon Shire

    1(e)

    Note: (e) after number of copies indicates electronic distribution

  • Response from Loddon Shire Council Mid term review of the GMW connections project stage 2

    RMCG Environment | Water | Agriculture | Policy | Economics | Communities

    Contents

    Executive summary i

    1 Introduction 1

    2 Irrigated water use in the region 2 2.1 The Loddon Valley Irrigation Area region (Pyramid Boort districts) .......................................... 2 2.2 Water infrastructure and supply ................................................................................................ 3 2.3 Productive and diverse agricultural production ......................................................................... 4 2.4 Significant users ........................................................................................................................ 6 2.5 Water use over time .................................................................................................................. 8 2.6 Water efficiency pre and post modernisation ............................................................................ 9

    3 Potential changes to scope of Connections project 10

    4 The case for modernising the Loddon Valley Irrigation Area 11 4.1 The prosperity of Loddon Valley communities and region depends

    on irrigated water ................................................................................................................... 11 4.2 Investment based on water savings will unfairly reduce LVIA

    irrigator competitiveness ........................................................................................................ 11 4.3 The regions high capacity to react to market changes depends on

    modernised irrigation .............................................................................................................. 12 4.4 Significant water users and investors need access to modernised

    irrigation ................................................................................................................................. 13

    5 Loddon Valley needs 16

    6 Suggestions for GMW to achieve modernisation goals 16

    References 17

  • Response from Loddon Shire Council Mid term review of the GMW connections project stage 2

    RMCG Environment | Water | Agriculture | Policy | Economics | Communities Page i

    Executive summary

    This submission

    Loddon Shire Council has commissioned this submission to clearly state our concerns about the future of irrigation modernisation in the Loddon Valley Irrigation Area (LVIA). Following the release of the Goulburn-Murray Water Connections Project Stage 2 - Mid Term Review (mid term review) we are concerned that changes to the plan for modernisation will unduly impact irrigators in our shire.

    The aim of this submission is to give Goulburn-Murray Water (GMW) and other decision-makers a clear case for full investment in irrigation Infrastructure in the LVIA.

    Our concerns

    Loddon Shire is one of the largest and most diverse municipalities within Victorias Foodbowl, with an economy based predominantly on agriculture. Irrigated agriculture takes up the northern third of our shire, accounting for roughly two thirds of our agricultural production. Amongst the approximately 1,500 landholders within the LVIA, over 53 per cent of enterprises are mixed farming.1

    Since the release of the mid term review, there have been strong indications that there will be changes to the scope of the Connections project in order to fit within the remaining budget. There is significant concern that the parts of the GMID yet to be completed under the original project plan will be the losers in any revision of the project. In Loddon, we are concerned that our irrigation area will miss out on much needed irrigation modernisation, reducing the competitiveness of our region and our ability to create jobs, attract investment and produce more for export.

    There have been strong indications that alterations to the future scope of works will be based primarily on capacity to make water savings. Basing investment on water savings will inequitably penalise the LVIA for our existing high irrigation supply efficiency rates.

    We urge decision makers to remember that the driving force of this project was to support productivity, regional economies, and local communities, as well as the environment in northern Victoria.

    The options considered and chosen for the future of the Connections project will affect LVIA irrigators and the regions productive capacity and capability for generations to come. We are extremely concerned that the Loddon Valley and the communities it supports will be losers in a scope reduced Connections project.

    The case for modernising LVIA

    The prosperity of Loddon Valley communities and region depends on irrigated water

    Loddon Shire is located in central Victoria, nearly 200 kilometres northwest of the Melbourne CBD. The Shire is predominantly rural, with its population spread among small towns and rural areas. Our economy is centred on agricultural production, with 45 per cent of the local labour force employed in agriculture

    1 GMW (2015) GMW Connections Project Fact Sheet

  • Response from Loddon Shire Council Mid term review of the GMW connections project stage 2

    RMCG Environment | Water | Agriculture | Policy | Economics | Communities Page ii

    related jobs2. The Shire acknowledges the importance of agriculture to the prosperity of our communities and will protect it at all costs.

    Water supply throughout the region will have a strong bearing on the type of industries that can operate in both rural and urban areas, and on the future sustainability of settlements. Water supply to rural areasshould provide a more secure water future for the region for the next 30 years and beyond.

    ~ Regional Growth Plan Loddon Mallee South3

    Failure to invest now in irrigation infrastructure will destroy opportunities to attract investment to this region, creating marked disadvantage for this generation and generations to come. Value added industries in our region also rely on supply of the commodities produced by our regions irrigators. Without competitive irrigated agriculture in the Loddon Valley, we will see loss of businesses, jobs and investment that will heighten population and socio-economic pressures on already stressed communities.

    Given the reliance of our region on agriculture, forthcoming decisions made about the scope of the Connections project will have intergenerational consequences. Failure to modernise LVIA as promised will be a body blow to a Shire already fighting the impacts of drought and demographic shifts.

    Full modernisation of the LVIA will improve our regions capacity to invest in high value agriculture or increase scale, thereby creating jobs, increasing exports, supporting economic vitality and countering the decline of small towns and communities. We urge decision makers to take regional development impacts into account when making choices about the future of the Connections project.

    Investment based on water savings will unfairly reduce LVIA irrigator competitiveness

    Loddon Valley has some of the highest irrigation supply efficiency rates in the GMID, and has since pre-modernisation. In addition, the capital costs for irrigation infrastructure are the lowest in the GMID. This is because of our flat geography, heavy soils, fewer regulators per kilometre and relatively few roads to cross.

    A Connections project focussed solely on water savings will result in the Loddon Shire not receiving the level of investment originally described in plans to modernise irrigated agriculture in northern Victoria.

    Our region has worked hard to maintain an efficient system. Basing irrigation investment on capacity to realise water savings will unfairly penalise our region for its natural advantages and high efficiency.

    The effort to modernise irrigation infrastructure in northern Victoria was launched with the intention that the whole GMID would be modernised and that the level of service would be similar across all irrigation areas. There always been more to this project than water savings. It has had a strong focus on developing the strength of regional agribusiness and communities.

    The Brumby Government is ta