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Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Landowners water fears

Goulburn-Murray Water is to hold meetings for landowners in nine Strategic Connections Plan Areas, starting at Lancaster this Friday, but the landowners are have their fears about the future of their water supply.

January 30, 2013 4:46am

Goulburn-Murray Water is to hold meetings for landowners in nine Strategic Connections Plan Areas, starting at Lancaster this Friday.

G-MW is expected to shortly begin implementing a major stage of its channel modernisation program which will determine how irrigators receive their water.

Some landowners believe they may be invited to sell their properties depending on where they fit within the proposed network of water delivery.

G-MW connections project manager George Warne said G-MW held similar meeting for several SCPAs toward the end of last year and more than 200 landowners attended their local meetings.

‘‘Landowners are telling us the meetings are a useful way to start the process because they provide an opportunity for landowners to meet and discuss options and ideas with other landowners in the local area,’’ said Mr Warne.

In the months following each meeting, a G-MW modernisation co-ordinator works with local landowners to develop proposals to connect their property to the backbone channel.

The individual agreements are included in an overall Strategic Connection Plan for their local SCPA.

The G-MW Connections Project is investing $2billion on water delivery services and plans to resize the channel network across the Goulburn-Murray Irrigation District. This involves developing future water delivery arrangements for around 6000 properties in 180 Strategic Connection Plan Areas.

Local landowners will share in the project funding as it provides grants to landowners or groups of landowners to connect to the backbone channel network.

However, Stanhope farmer Kevin Sutton believes that if G-MW is able to implement the Strategic Connections Plan as it proposes, the result could have dire consequences on the region.

Mr Sutton argued that about 7200 properties could be affected by the proposed plans and that G-MW was essentially stripping rights away from farmers.

‘‘All farmers on a channel have equal rights and what Goulburn Murray Water are planning on doing is taking away some of those farmers rights,’’ Mr Sutton said.

Campaspe Concerned Citizens secretary Julie Young said CCC has requested G-MW provide information on resilience and wellbeing at each of the scheduled meetings to encourage participants to look after themselves.

Potential change like this, with the associated social and economic impacts it may have on affected landowners, can have a dramatic effect on their wellbeing, lowering resilience.

The importance of looking after yourself needs be reinforced in a professional manner to achieve the best outcomes for these landowners and their families.

Ms Young said support and the opportunity to gain the skills to be resilient would be most beneficial to anyone involved in the program.

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