Producers along the Wimmera River are feeling optimistic following consistent rainfall, resulting in access to surface water allocations.
GWMWater advised more than 40 Wimmera River irrigators that they could access 100% of their surface water allocations this week, after the trigger was reached in July.
The Wimmera Catchment Surface Water and Groundwater Local Management Plan details the diversion ‘trigger’ rules, which allow surface water licence holders access to their full allocation once a minimum of 10,000 megalitres has flowed through the Glenorchy gauging station at any time during the calendar year.
Norton Estate winery owner Chris Spence said the season was looking very encouraging with regular rain not only reaching the required trigger for surface water allocations, but topping up Grampians reservoirs and providing much needed soil moisture ahead of summer.
“The more rain we get at this time of year means there is more moisture in the soil when the vines wake up in the middle of September,” he said. “If we get good rainfall again through October and November, that will set up the vines up for the upcoming summer and saves a lot of water use.”
Mr Spence said the surface water allocation provided an important resource for the vineyard and stock production, as an alternative to desalinated bore water.
“The surface water allocation is important to have on hand to manage extreme weather over summer,” he said. “When we have heat waves, we can extract enough water to give the vineyard a good watering over three to four days to avoid damage to the vines or the fruit we’re producing.”
Mr Spence said although he had access to his full allocation, Norton Estate would only use what was required in the interest of protecting the natural environment.
“I’ve lived along the river for many years, I’m a fisherman and I thoroughly enjoy the Wimmera River at its best,” he said. “The triggers are set up to allow protection of the river.”