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Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Modernisation advisory bodies gone

District consultation bodies for Foodbowl Modernisation have been abolished.

GEOFF ADAMS September 11, 2012 4:05am

Community feedback committees for Foodbowl irrigation modernisation have been scrapped at the direction of Victorian Water Minister Peter Walsh.

The committees, which comprised stakeholders in modernisation as well as irrigators, were established for the former Northern Victoria Irrigation Renewal Project.

Originally designed to broaden the input into modernisation, the Central Goulburn and Murray Valley committees had their last meeting in Shepparton last week at a meeting organised by Goulburn-Murray Water, which has taken over modernisation works.

The G-MW water services committees, which have just customer representation, are intended to take over the job.

The water corporation’s Connections project manager George Warne said the former NVIRP had created modernisation committees to ensure community engagement was considered during the modernisation works.

He said there was already an extensive overlap with the two types of committees, and the modernisation committees had largely become redundant.

‘‘In some areas the water service committees and the modernisation committees had almost exactly the same membership.’’

The former chair of the Murray Valley modernisation committee, Barry Croke, said the original charter was to engage the wider community, not just irrigators, in introducing and explaining what benefits modernisation would bring to the district.

‘‘We had representation from the DPI, CMAs and the shires. Modernisation has had a much wider impact than just on irrigators,’’ Mr Croke said.

‘‘Although some modernisation committees might not have had many community representatives, we certainly wanted to maximise the benefits of what was going on.’’

Mr Croke said the only failure of the committees was to engage local government, and shires such as Moira had not embraced the change and had resisted and delayed changes in allowing pipes along public roads.

‘‘I don’t think the municipalities have grasped what modernisation will mean for agriculture,’’ he said.

Mr Warne said after two concluding meetings at Shepparton and Kerang he would be looking at the comments.

He said the water services committees would play a valuable role in relaying progress on modernisation, and they would be engaging other groups involved in modernisation.

He said G-MW would be looking at how it could continue to have broader engagement with the community, but the modernisation committees were wound up on September 1.

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