Boost for Don scheme

THE Don Irrigation Scheme has received additional funding on the eve of construction, with the Federal Government committing an additional $13.7 million towards the 4750-megalitre project.

Through the 2022-23 Budget, the Federal Government has committed the extra funding, which is expected to cover increases in costs over construction.

The $54.4 million project has been funded by Federal and State governments, as well as input from irrigators, a collaboration which Tasmanian Irrigation CEO Andrew Kneebone has praised.

“The Don Irrigation Scheme is another fantastic example of the Tasmanian and Australian governments working cooperatively and collaboratively with private landowners to deliver infrastructure that will create jobs and give farmers the confidence to invest, value add, diversify and expand,” Mr Kneebone said.
“Tasmanian Irrigation sincerely thanks landowners in the greater Don area for investing in this project, underpinning its viability to progress through final design, approvals and now to construction.”
“This region is highly regarded as one of Australia’s most productive vegetable producing areas and, with the addition of 95 per cent average annual reliability irrigation water, the region’s brand, reputation and productivity will be further enhanced.”

Melina Burbury, farmer and chair of the irrigator representative committee for the Don region, said the water scheme will reshape the growing capacity of the region.

“It’s going to have a big impact on the area, it will bring a higher level of production to farms that haven’t been able to reach that previously, it’s going to change what produce can be grown in the area with more water-intensive crops becoming more viable, like avocados and berries,” she said.

Ms Burbury operates a sixth-generation, 70ha farm in the Forth area, and has said the access to water will allow another recently purchased property to come into production in line with their current property.

“Having been on this farm for so long, I remember my pop growing one paddock per year, that’s all he had the water for.
“Knowing our land, our layouts, our pivots, we used to need to make choices based on water availability.”
“Now, being able to grow cover crops we will be able to get the best results from our lands, rotate our crops healthily, as well as manage erosion.”

Construction on the project is expected to start within the next month with the expectation of a mid-to-late 2023 end date, though initial commencement dates were listed as December 2021, and process is expected to be slow through winter.