Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Water pioneers

Scientists, engineers, farmers and environmentalists got together last week to celebrate a partnership which has changed the landscape of the Goulburn Valley.

GEOFF ADAMS August 26, 2014 3:06am

From left, Bruce Gill, Tom Dumaresq, John Dainton and Paul O'Connor.

Scientists, engineers, farmers and environmentalists got together last week to celebrate a partnership which has changed the landscape of the Goulburn Valley.

While the work of the Farm and Environment Working Group has been heavily influenced by Goulburn Broken Catchment Management Authority, Goulburn-Murray Water and Victorian Government departments, it has included a number of members who represent farmers and the community.

The working group is a sub-committee of Goulburn Broken CMA’s Sustainable Irrigation Program Advisory Group.

The group has developed policies for the farm and environment program, over-sighted program work and linked with groups in other regions.

Carl Walters from Goulburn Broken CMA told the anniversary meeting the committee had played a critical role in the development of the region over the past 20 years.

He noted there were 82 former members of the group, at least half of which were community representatives.

‘‘I remember going to a meeting and copping it because I had not done my homework. You have to remember you could be asked about any topic.’’

Goulburn Broken CMA chief executive Chris Norman joked that the committee was so heavily influenced by community representation that in his former days with DPI, it had sometimes been accused of being ‘captured’ by the community.

‘‘I remember feeling a great sense of satisfaction, as much as you could, in working in the department, when working with this group,’’ Mr Norman said.

He recalled the emphasis on whole farm planning and laser grading in the early days.

‘‘I also remember Bill Trewhella making a presentation on channel leakage and seepage and the response that it was only about five per cent and not worth worrying about. Water was cheap.

‘‘It’s been an amazing journey.’’

Current chairman Roger Wrigley, from the University of Melbourne, said the group had been ‘‘a great survivor’’, adapting to suit changing farm and environmental demands.

About 4000 whole farm plans had been developed over the years.

Associate Professor Wrigley said new whole farm plans were still required because farms were now going through mergers as they acquired neighbouring properties, as new technologies created alternative irrigation methods and with the advent of food-bowl modernisation.

Today’s issues for the group included the government on-farm water efficiency processes and grants.

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