Drainage scheme

By Rodney Woods

A celebration to mark the completion of Mosquito Drain 40 was marked with a cake at an event where the drain finishes — near the property of Dhurringile dairy farmer Phillip Lang.

Goulburn Broken Catchment Management Authority hosted the event and its chief executive officer Chris Norman explained the significance of the milestone.

‘‘Today is an amazing celebration for our region,’’ he said.

‘‘We’ve had a land and water management plan in this region for 30 years.

‘‘Drainage and the removal of water off irrigated paddocks to increase productivity and protect the environment was a major part of that plan.

‘‘Today we celebrate more than 25 years of the Mosquito Drain (40) being constructed and finished.’’

Mr Norman explained the benefits for farmers and the environment with the drainage system now complete.

‘‘For farmers, the benefit is getting water off their paddocks so the productivity is not impacted,’’ he said.

‘‘If you leave water sitting on top of pastures, the productivity drops right away so it’s about helping productivity — and if water sits there, it soaks through to the groundwater and creates salinity problems.

‘‘Then we are trying to protect the environment by protecting trees and allowing water to come off wetlands but also the ability to put water back into wetlands as well — so it has lots of benefits.’’

Mr Norman said the process did not come without its challenges.

‘‘As people know, water is the hardest thing to get agreement about and it’s no different with the drainage program,’’ he said.

‘‘There is a lot of argument about the cost of it, whether I (some farmers) needed it because my farm might have been better drained naturally or might be higher in the landscape than someone else.

‘‘So there is a lot of debate because in the end we were sharing equitably the costs so some people got a better benefit than someone else.’’

Host farmer Phillip Lang was blunt when explaining the effects of water laying around pastures.

‘‘Pasture — it will die if I don’t get the water off in 24 to 48 hours, so the drain helps that happen,’’ he said.

‘‘It (the drain) improves my productivity.’’

The drain, which covers 120km to the Goulburn River near Echuca, has been mostly funded by the Victorian Government, except for the initial funding in 1994-95 which came from the Federal Government.