Recreational Water Supply A Must For Region

Published on 20 December 2023

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Recreational Water Security A Must For Region

The Yarriambiack Shire Council is actively championing the interests of the community, advocating to safeguard the long-term security of recreational water for the six lakes and weir pools within the Shire.

Completed in 2010, the Wimmera Mallee Pipeline was one of the largest water infrastructure projects in Australia, replacing 17,500 kilometres of inefficient open channels, with 9,159 kilometres of rural pipeline. The aim of the pipeline was to drought proof the region and provide water security across an area that provides a third of Victoria’s grain crops, a fifth of its sheep, lambs, wool and pigs and almost 10 per cent of its eggs.

At the time of lobbying, the community strongly articulated that it was imperative for 12 strategically located recreational lakes across the region be allocated with at least 3000-4000 megalitres of high security water supply, like that of domestic and stock water.  This was clearly advocated when a special deputation to the Federal Government in Canberra was made, to secure funding for the WMP, which included 24,000 signatures. At the time, both the Federal and State Governments endorsed the allocation of recreational water being delivered as a high security supply.

The business case for the Wimmera Mallee Pipeline included a commitment that recreational water would have the same high-level security as domestic and stock supply in the region. However, this promise did not come to fruition when the Wimmera Glenelg Bulk Entitlements were issued in 2010.

Yarriambiack Shire Council Mayor Cr Kylie Zanker said, “At our December Council Meeting we have moved the recommendation to write to the relevant Ministers advocating for changes to the Wimmera Glenelg Bulk Entitlement that would provide assurance to our community that recreational water will receive the same high security supply to that of domestic and stock”.

The reliability profile of the recreation entitlement within the Wimmera Glenelg Bulk Entitlement is lower than other Wimmera Mallee Pipeline products. To date, this has created the circumstance where GWMWater has had to transfer consumptive water into the Recreation Water entitlement in nine of the last eleven years since 2012-13 (not including 2016-17 and 2022-23).

“Over the last eleven years, there have been significantly dry years, not including 2016-17 and 2022-23. During this time GWMWater have had to transfer consumptive water in the recreation water entitlement due to the Wimmera Glenelg entitlement not being reliable each year. Without the transfer by GWMWater the recreation lakes on the WMP would be dry and unusable in most years in the last decade”, Cr Zanker added.

Up until 2022, GWMWater Consumptive Entitlements have supplied 74% of the supply to the Recreation Lakes since 2012-13, with only 26% coming from Recreational Entitlement allocation. With large industries such as mining proposed for our region, there are growing concerns that GWMWater may not have the consumptive water allocation to transfer to recreation water entitlement.

Yarriambiack Shire Council believes that recreational water is a vital component for the region’s liveability and sustainability.

“Our recreational lakes and weir pools are vital for Yarriambiack Shire as water bodies promote tourism and visitation to our Shire, stimulating the local economy. Our Lakes and weir pools are identified as facilitating positive social health and wellbeing outcomes through enabling fishing, water recreation activities such as canoeing, boating, skiing, and swimming.  Water flows in weir pools and lakes enhance water quality for fish, aquatic plants, and systems. It also provides a habitat for fish populations. Our communities fought hard for decades to ensure that our communities water supply was secure, and recreation water is a huge part of our lives and the future of our towns”, Cr Zanker added.

“Local and state governments have invested millions of dollars in new facilities, such as toilets, road repairs, infrastructure, and camping amenities. These investments aim to provide regional communities and their families and friends with the necessary infrastructure to enjoy various recreational activities, including fishing, skiing, swimming. The impact and importance of this water allocation cannot be underestimated. We will be taking every opportunity to advocate on behalf of our communities in support of their plight to further secure recreation water for our region”, Cr Zanker said.

“As GWMWater customers, we pay a contribution towards recreational water, which we gladly pay to ensure we are provided with water for our lakes and weir pools. However, l am not sure that the community understands that whilst we pay this charge, the supply is not guaranteed and secure”, Cr Zanker continued.

“Our recreational water allocation is vulnerable, and we will be advocating alongside other local government authorities, key industries and water authorities to ensure supply is legislated and secure for the future”, Cr Zanker said.


Cr Kylie Zanker