Food and livestock producers between Ballarat and Geelong are set for a major long-term boost through the installation of a new water pipe along the Midland Highway.
The first stage of the 18-kilometre Golden Plains water pipeline was officially unveiled at the Barwon Water Pump Station last week and will supply potable water to producers across 4000 hectares of prime farmland.
Golden Plains Shire Council mayor Des Phelan said the project is a “significant investment” into the local economy, but said its true value won’t be fully realised for several years.
“In lots of ways, it’s the people south east or east (of Meredith) who will be the ones to benefit (as opposed to those in the north),” Cr Phelan said.
“If it reaches its full potential, experts say it could generate $160 million when it’s fully realised (which could take up to a decade).”
“Agriculture is Golden Plains Shire’s largest industry sector, making up 26 per cent of the local workforce.
“Our farmers contribute significantly to Victoria’s primary produce supply, producing 4 million eggs, 600,000 chickens, 1000 pigs and 28,000 litres of goat milk each week.”
Many producers who will eventually tap into the project are likely to supply to Ballarat and surrounding areas.
The infrastructure has the capacity to deliver 50 litres per second of water to the shire’s food production precinct.
The $11.78 million project is funded through a $4.17 million federal government commitment, with Barwon Water contributing $3.44 million and Golden Plains Shire $1.23 million alongside the state government’s $2.94 million.
Regional Development Minister Fiona Nash said connecting the Golden Plains site to reliable water would increase irrigation capacity and create new jobs.
“We have connected this 4000 hectare block of land with the mains water supply, meaning farmers and producers have access to a reliable source of water and can plan their production with certainty,” Ms Nash said.
The project is touted to create more than 700 jobs through its total roll out, with future employment opportunities to be provided through construction
Stage two of the project, which includes the $3.44 million installation of Barwon Water infrastructure, will commence when demand for water access reaches a stipulated capacity.
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