Water to boost farm projects

An initiative to boost the availability of water for farm irrigation in southern Tasmania has the potential to create thousands of jobs and put the state on the map as a leader in innovative intensive agricultural practices.

That is the view of Brighton Mayor Tony Foster, the Chairman of the new Southern Region Irrigation and Economic Development Board, formed to drive this initiative.

"Drought conditions have detrimentally affected too many farms

in the southern region over the past two years," he said.

"Brighton has gone some way towards assisting farmers by making treated effluent available for crop irrigation.

"It was this multi million dollar project and results from the State Government's industry audit which identified water as a valuable resource that started us thinking about the impact increased bulk water supply could have on our economy.

"Making bulk water readily available in areas traditionally troubled by dry conditions, yet otherwise suitable for intensive agriculture, provides our State with an opportunity to continue to turn our economy around."

Studies have been undertaken to ascertain the viability of a number of bulk water irrigation sources, including the Derwent and

Jordan Rivers, and effluent reuse projects in other municipalities.

"To our advantage, we have a supportive Government and community, interested investors, arable land close to shipping ports and the skills and knowledge to take us where we want to go," Mayor Foster said.

"In addition, we have a top Agricultural Science Department at the University of Tasmania, and a thriving IT industry. This is a regional project with sustainable and exciting benefits for the people of the southern region.

"Our goal is not to rely wholly on government funds, but to seek the support of investors who share our foresight and recognise the potential impact of a project of this kind in Tasmania."

Further information contact Tony Foster, Chairman Southern Region Irrigation and Economic Development Board, telephone (03) 6231 1522