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Building Farming Capacity: Strategy For Drainage Relief

25 October 2017

A new drainage strategy being introduced by the Andrews Labor Government will help landholders get the right drainage systems in place for their properties to reduce financial loss from water-logged paddocks and other drainage issues.

The Labor Government has invested $2 million into the draft Victorian Rural Drainage Strategy, to offer solutions for dryland farmers who have drainage issues that interfere with running stock and growing crops.

The development of the strategy, a key initiative of Water for Victoria will see improved management of rural drainage by better defining the roles and responsibilities for landholders, councils, catchment management authorities and the State Government.

The strategy applies to drainage areas totalling more than 930,000 ha including 865,000 ha of private land and 67,000 ha public land.

The draft strategy responds to the findings of the 2013 Environment and Natural Resource Committee Inquiry into Rural Drainage in Victoria, which revealed community concern about the management and maintenance of the state’s rural drainage systems.

Feedback from farmers indicated that they have been confronted with too much red tape when trying to arrange drainage approvals and advice for their properties.

Landholders will meet with local councils and catchment management authorities as part of the strategy to help reach agreements on the design of drainage systems, which often cover more than one property.

This will enable farmers to easily access advice on the best drainage system for their properties and local area and offer a more streamlined approvals process to manage drainage.

An off-the-shelf drainage model will be offered to landholders to reduce costs or a fit-for-purpose system for a particular area.

The strategy will benefit the environment and help improve agricultural productivity by managing the impacts of drainage, which costs the dryland agriculture industry roughly $175 million every year and effects productivity across the state by 30 per cent.

The south-west suffers the biggest loss, losing 36 per cent of productivity annually from drainage issues, followed by 26 per cent in northern Victoria and 24 per cent in Gippsland. Across the state there are 130 dryland areas across roughly 1.5 million hectares of land, affecting about 5,000 landholders and producers.

Extensive consultation and collaboration between Traditional Owners and landholders has enabled indigenous water values to be reflected in the strategy. The Labor Government is inviting the community to have its say on the draft strategy, visit engage.vic.gov.au/ruraldrainageExternal Link .

Quotes attributable to Minister for Water Lisa Neville

The draft strategy is a key milestone that delivers what we set out to do in Water for Victoria – to develop a rural drainage strategy for the state that best benefits landholders.”

“Drainage issues are a huge strain on farmers and this strategy will give clarity to landowners and boost agricultural productivity.”

Reviewed 19 August 2020

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