Previously unconnected parts of regional Victoria are being connected to Victoria’s water grid to provide water security to rural communities for the first time ever.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews joined Minister for Environment, Climate Change and Water Lisa Neville and Agriculture Minister Jaala Pulford in the Wedderburn district to announce that approximately 1,300km of pipelines will be built to link the West Waranga Channel with the Wimmera Mallee Pipeline.

Rural communities in south­west Loddon Shire are largely dependent on rainfall for their water supply, and after three years of drought conditions, many rural residents have been forced to cart water for stock and domestic purposes.

Under stage two of the South West Loddon Rural Water Supply Project, more than 260 farm businesses and 370 other rural properties will be connected to the grid, creating 134 jobs during and beyond construction.

The pipelines will deliver about 780 million litres of water to local landholders and hydrants, and standpipes will be installed at strategic locations to improve water access for emergency services and residents.

The project is expected to cost about $80 million, which includes $40 million from the Labor Government and a $20 million contribution from Grampians Wimmera Mallee Water and landholders. The Commonwealth Government will also be asked to contribute.

Stage one of the South West Loddon Rural Water Supply Project was announced in November and includes building 40km of trunk pipelines and associated infrastructure such as hydrants and pump stations around Korong Vale, Wychitella, Buckrabanyule and Woosang.

In addition to these connections, the Coonooer Bridge peripheral pipeline extension project will connect properties in and around Coonooer Bridge for the first time, including the township’s CFA station and community centre.

The $245,000 project will be jointly funded by the Labor Government and Grampians Wimmera Mallee Water, and will build around 8km of stock and domestic pipeline off the Wimmera Mallee Pipeline.

“The sheer number and complexity of the many pipelines that cart water around this state is mind­boggling,” said Daniel Andrews.

“By extending the Wimmera Mallee Pipeline, it will be able to reach more than 300,000 hectares currently left off the grid. That’s an area four times the size of Singapore.

“We will build an array of pipelines that – laid end to end – would almost be as long as New Zealand.

“Water is an asset ­ our whole state deserves to share it.”

According to Mr Andrews, communities around Loddon Shire have been doing it tough without reliable and secure access to water.

Stage two of this project will connect hundreds of properties in south­west Loddon Shire to the water grid for the first time ever, significantly increasing the region’s water security and helping local farming.

For local families forced to cart water during dry conditions, this will save time and money.

According to Minister for Environment, Climate Change and Water Lisa Neville, stage two of the project will significantly lessen the impact of dry seasons on farm businesses and other rural properties.

“Connecting the West Waranga Channel and Wimmera Mallee Pipeline will mean a previously isolated water system will now give customers greater water security whilst still using existing water entitlements,” said Ms Neville.

Minister for Agriculture Jaala Pulford said “We are proud to deliver this project that will connect south­west Loddon Shire to Victoria’s water grid – it will benefit farmers, businesses and communities.”

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