South East joins flow

WATER sales opened last Friday for Tasmania’s largest ever irrigation project – the 38,000 megalitre Greater South East Irrigation Scheme. Tasmanian Irrigation will be joined by Primary Industries and Water Minister Jo Palmer at Jansz Vineyard at Penna today to launch this important step for the $522 million project.

Landowners are invited to contractually apply for water entitlements, providing the essential private contribution as part of the unique public/ private funding model that has already enabled 15 irrigation projects to be constructed around Tasmania.

The Greater South East Irrigation Scheme has been designed to deliver reliable and fit-for-purpose water to existing and new irrigators, merge the existing South East Stages One, Two and Three Irrigation Schemes, and eliminate reliance on the potable TasWater supply by sourcing all water from Lake Meadowbank. Tasmanian Irrigation chief executive officer Andrew Kneebone thanked all south east landowners that had taken the time to provide feedback about the project’s Preferred Option Design.

“As a result of recent community consultation, we have extended the proposed area serviced by this project to include Kempton and implemented a new pricing zone for that area” Mr Kneebone said. “This means the water delivery capacity for the region will increase from 7,630 megalitres to 38,000 megalitres of summer water and 12,500 megalitres of winter water across 146,000 hectares. “It is imperative that landowners commit to this project by applying for water entitlements to ensure the Greater South East Irrigation Scheme progresses to detailed design, business case, permits and approvals, construction and commissioning – provisionally planned for 2026/27.”

The scheme is expected to create 474 direct and in-direct jobs, as well as prompt millions of dollars in on-farm investment. Mr Kneebone encouraged farmers to talk to family members, banks, financial planners, agronomists and others to determine their water needs for today and for future generations.

“This high-surety irrigation water gives farmers the confidence to expand, diversify, intensify and employ more people. “If water sales reach the viability threshold, Tasmanian Irrigation will prepare a business case to detail the required funds from the state and federal governments to meet on-ground demand and construct the Greater South East Irrigation Scheme.”

Summer water entitlements for the South East have been priced at $3,500 per megalitre, winter water at $1,850/ Ml, Jordan River Valley summer water at $2,500/Ml and winter water at $1,750/Ml, Gretna summer water at $1,650/Ml and South East Stage One conversion entitlements at $1,950/Ml. Water sales close on December 23. Tasmanian Irrigation is organising a number of Drop In Days to enable farmers to obtain additional information.