Melbourne Water in the Pipeline for South Gippsland

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Water is “gold” to Inverloch Dairy Farmer, Warren Redmond

South Gippsland will benefit from a new connection to the Melbourne water network, with the Victorian Desalination Plant ensuring supply during drought.

The $43 million Lance Creek Water Connection Project will supply four towns with Melbourne water, when completed in June 2019.

A combination of new and existing pipelines will feed from the 82 kilometre pipeline connecting Cardinia Reservoir in Melbourne’s South-East with the Desalination Plant at Wonthaggi, said South Gippsland Water civil engineer, John Pruyn.

“The pipeline will receive Melbourne water from the Melbourne water supply system, so it’s not necessarily desalinated water. If the Desalination Plant is not operating and we require water, we can get water back feeding from Cardinia Reservoir. If the Desalination Plant is running and we require water, we would get water from the Desalination Plant,” he said

“It’s a very exciting and major project for the region and it secures water supplies over the next 50 years to Korumburra, Poowong, Loch and Nyora.”

South Gippsland Water concluded the connection was preferred to investing in surface supplies such as reservoirs, as it offers a higher level of water supply security, allows for future economic growth and permits the ‘agricultural sector to use additional flows’.

Although drought-proof pipeline connections to agricultural properties is not within the scope of the project, farmers will be able to purchase water from existing filling stations, Mr Pruyn said.

With 1100 dairy cows to milk, Inverloch dairy farmers Warren and Kerrie Redmond deeply appreciate how precious water is.

Low rainfall during the spring of 2015 led to a water shortage in this area, with the three Redmond farms among those most affected.

“It’s like gold to me, especially when you’ve run out of water. It gets really scary; how you’re going to look after your cows,” Mr Redmond said.

In order for their business to survive, the Redmond’s collaborated with nearby farmers to invest $140,000 in a fifteen kilometre pipeline, which pumped water over four months to their properties, from a disused basin at Inverloch.

Mr Redmond said the pipeline and trucking water was expensive but necessary to maintain his livelihood, adding that the new Melbourne connection offered hope for future dry periods.

The link to the Melbourne network is also beneficial for local industry, with the new pipeline priming South Gippsland for the next 50 years of economic growth.

Glenn Falcke, General Manger of Operations at Burra Foods, said a secure water supply is of “paramount” importance to the Korumburra dairy processor, which manufactures milk powder and infant formula.

Mr Falcke said Burra Foods is now able to expand, adding that investment by other industries in the region is bound to grow.

“We’ve got the electricity, we’ve got the gas, we’ve got the waste water treatment capabilities, we just didn’t have the water. Now we will have that, it opens the doors up for a lot of people I would have thought.”