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Joint Media Release
Commonwealth Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Dr David Kemp, MP
Commonwealth Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry
Victorian Minister for Environment
Victorian Minister for Agriculture
12 May 2003
The Federal and Victorian Governments will commit a total of $7.77 million towards a detailed design study of the Wimmera Mallee Pipeline proposal.
The funding was jointly announced today by Federal Ministers responsible for the Natural Heritage Trust - Environment Minister, Dr David Kemp, and Agriculture Minister, Warren Truss, with Victorian Minister for Environment, John Thwaites, and Victorian Minister for Agriculture, Bob Cameron.
Mr Truss said the study aimed to verify the Wimmera Mallee Pipeline's economic viability, environmental sustainability and expected benefits to the community and region.
"The proposal to extend the Wimmera Mallee Pipeline system across the entire domestic water supply channels in the Wimmera Mallee region represents a major infrastructure project," Mr Truss said.
"The Howard/Anderson Government has been highly supportive of replacing the old and inefficient water supply systems in North Western Victoria, contributing over $27 million from the Natural Heritage Trust to piping projects.
"This amount includes $4 million for piping the Cannie Ridge and Patchewollock sections in the northern Mallee region, projects which are currently proceeding very well."
Mr Thwaites said the Bracks Government had already committed $77 million to the Wimmera Mallee Pipeline project in recognition of its importance to the region.
"The study will involve a detailed map of the proposed piping system, allowing for a more accurate assessment of how the project should proceed," he said.
"A completed Wimmera Mallee Pipeline system will replace 17,500 kilometres of open earthen channels with piping, saving 93,000 megalitres of water a year that is now lost to evaporation and seepage."
Mr Cameron said the new system would help control salinity.
"Seepage from the open earth channels is contributing to increased salinity in the area and a piped water system will benefit salinity control efforts," he said.
"The Victorian Government sees the pipeline as a major element to ensuring the future sustainability of water resources in the Wimmera Mallee."
Dr Kemp said the proposal expects to bring significant environmental flows for the Wimmera and Glenelg Rivers along with the huge benefits of more reliable and better quality water.
"This additional water would support river health, industry, agriculture, tourism and other regional economic development," he said.
"The Commonwealth is keen to work cooperatively with the Wimmera Mallee region and the Victorian Government to explore solutions to water shortages and poor water quality."
This latest funding brings the total Natural Heritage Trust funds allocated to Victoria in 2002-03 to $23.1 million. The project funding has been brought forward from Victoria's Natural Heritage Trust regional allocation.
Minister Kemp: Catherine Job (02) 6277 7640 or 0408 648 400
Minister Truss: Tim Langmead (02) 6277 7520 or 0418 221 433
Minister Thwaites: Ilsa Colson (03) 9651 0957 or 0418 368 639
Minister Cameron: Kym Carter (03) 9651 5799 or 0419 294094
Wimmera Mallee Pipeline project: John Powell (03) 5362 0258