The Western Australian Government has secured $20 million in Commonwealth funding for water infrastructure projects for farmers, through the Commonwealth’s National Water Grid Fund Connections funding pathway.

The Western Australian Government has advocated for WA farmers for close to 12 months to secure the funding, whilst continuing to invest in the state’s agricultural, community and strategic water supplies.

Water infrastructure projects that are part of the successful Western Australia Connections package, will include infrastructure and pipeline upgrades to increase water storage capacity and access, as well as the construction of new water recycling systems.

The projects include:

  • $7.3 million program over the next two years to upgrade and refurbish 70 agricultural area dams from the Mid-West through to the Wheatbelt and Great Southern, ($3.65 million each from the WA and Federal Government)
  • $3.2 million to continue the WA Government’s Community Water Supply projects in partnership with local governments, ($1.6 million each from the WA and Federal Government, plus contribution from partner LGAs)
  • $9.8 million funding for the Ord Tailwater Return System project, and $1.04 million for the Esperance Small Scale Desalination pilot in partnership with other collaborators, ($6.12 million commitment from the WA Government and $4.72 from the Federal Government)
  • $16.5 million for four Water Corporation projects covering dam catchment improvements at three of its dams in the Great Southern, freeing up non-potable supplies for agricultural use, and pipeline improvements between Katanning and Kojonup, ($8.95 million commitment from the WA Government and $7.55 from the Federal Government)
  • $4.96 million for the Gascoyne Irrigation Scheme and Modernisation project to equip production bores and upgrade monitoring and control systems to smart metering to allow for horticultural expansion, ($2.48 million each from the WA and Federal Governments)

These projects will increase resilience and water security in farming communities. 

Collectively, these benefits will contribute to delivering secure, affordable and reliable water for rural and regional Australia.

Western Australian Water Minister, Dave Kelly, said, “I’m very pleased to see that the McGowan Government’s lobbying efforts have been successful in securing this $20 million in Commonwealth funding for WA farmers.

“By funding these projects, we will increase the water storage capacity of many WA agricultural communities and provide more reliable emergency agricultural and livestock water supplies for farmers to use during periods of dry conditions when on-farm supplies have been depleted.”

The projects are expected to deliver: 

  • More than 400 jobs during construction and 40 ongoing jobs (with up to 500 additional seasonal jobs)
  • 11.5 gigalitres in additional storage capacity
  • 6,437 megalitres per annum increased water availability
  • 561 hectares of additional irrigable land and up to eight new customers or properties connected to water supply

Western Australian Agriculture and Food Minister, Alannah MacTiernan, said, “I welcome the funding commitment from the Commonwealth towards these State priority water infrastructure projects that will make a big difference to growers.

“Projects in the Ord and Gascoyne will enhance water efficiency and support the expansion of our high-value horticultural industry.

“The desalination project in Esperance will boost our WaterSmart Farms rollout.

“It is important we continue to support our growers with the delivery of innovative new water infrastructure options as they continue to respond to the impacts of climate change.”

By developing and increasing the number of non-drinking water sources for regional communities and emergency use, this funding will provide a longer-term solution for WA farmers when dealing with the impacts of climate change and will support liveable and climate resilient communities in rural WA.

The Federal Government also recently announced an additional $1.54 billion in new funding for water grants only made available to Murray-Darling States, excluding Western Australia.

Mr Kelly said, “While this funding is welcome news, sadly the Commonwealth has continued to demonstrate its Eastern States focus, with the recent announcement that an additional $1.54 billion for water grants would only be made available to Murray-Darling States, meaning Western Australia won’t be eligible for this important funding.”

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