The Western Irrigation Network has reached a major project milestone with the completion of a new recycled water storage dam in Melton, a crucial step in the network’s mission to secure a future-proof recycled water supply for farmers in the Parwan-Balliang region for years to come.
Water has started flowing into the new storage dam at the 1.1-gigalitre Melton Recycled Water Plant and will be used to irrigate thousands of hectares of farmland from early 2023.
The $116.3 million Western Irrigation Network project is jointly funded by the Australian ($48.1 million) and Victorian ($65.6 million) governments and other partners ($2.6 million), delivered in partnership with Greater Western Water and local farmers.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Barnaby Joyce said the dam will be part of a network capable of supplying 18.3 gigalitres of recycled water a year by 2050.
“The Western Irrigation Network is delivering more than 50 kilometres of pipeline to bring recycled water to the region, transforming it from dryland farming to a thriving agricultural precinct,” the Deputy Prime Minister said.
“Projects like the Western Irrigation Network will support Aussie farmers and communities well into the future, helping them grow their businesses and creating more jobs.”
Victorian Minister for Water Lisa Neville said the Western Irrigation Network will provide local farmers with access to a reliable, year-round supply of recycled water, helping develop the food district within an hour’s drive of Melbourne.
“In helping regional communities invest and grow, the project supports the expansion of Victorian agriculture and benefits local and state economies,” Minister Neville said.
Senator for Victoria Sarah Henderson said the project will help to ensure a future-proofed recycled water supply for farmers, even during times of low rainfall.
“Transforming the region from dryland farming into a thriving agricultural precinct will help to support Australia’s food security, while also boosting the economy,” Senator Henderson said.
Victorian Parliamentary Secretary for Water Harriet Shing said with a growing population in Melbourne’s outer west comes the challenge of sustainably managing increased amounts of wastewater.
“The Western Irrigation Network will help us meet the challenge of a growing population by increasing the use of recycled water for irrigation,” Ms Shing said.
“The project will also connect dry land farmers to a guaranteed supply of recycled water suitable for irrigation farming.”
Greater Western Water Managing Director Maree Lang said using the region’s recycled water for agricultural purposes offers great value for customers, community and environment.
“Thanks to the support of the Victorian and Federal governments and local agribusinesses, we’ll be able to supply a region that experiences unreliable rainfall with the water it needs to thrive,” Ms Lang said.
Other works underway include the construction of infrastructure to connect existing recycled water supplies between the Melton and Bacchus Marsh plants to feed into the network.
The project is set for completion in 2025.