Mitchell reaches Stage 9 restrictions

Mitchell reaches Stage 9 restrictions

The Mitchell River, the major tributary that meanders from the mountains, through the rich vegetable growing country of the Lindenow Flats, has been placed on Stage 9 water restrictions.

A Southern Rural Water (SRW) spokesperson said the first of the 10 stages of restriction had been put into effect on January 12, and moved to Stage 9 on January 27.

“The restrictions followed high demand and low inflows,” the spokesperson said.

“Stage 9 restrictions means licence holders can only irrigate every third day at a much reduced volume, which is calculated on licence volume and pump output,” the spokesperson said.

“If river levels do not improve, a total ban will be required.”

Bulmer Farms’ Bill Bulmer, of Lindenow, wants the public to be aware of the river’ s restrictions and the ripple effects hot weather and a lack of irrigation water will have on local vegetable crops and businesses.

“If we don’t have any water it will slow winter production,” Mr Bulmer said.

“We’re not crying poor, we want to put everyone in the picture, the river isn’t an endless supply and it needs to be managed.

“We want people to be aware. There needs to be more measures in place to make people more water wise.”

He said East Gippsland Water was entitled to extract 16 megalitres a day, despite having off-river storage.

“It does make it harder for everyone else,” he said.

Town water supply is managed by East Gippsland Water (EGW). An EGW spokesperson said the organisation was strictly limited as to how much water it could extract from rivers by the Department of the Environment, Land, Water and Planning, to ensure there was no impact on environmental flows.

“Over the past few weeks we have severely cut back on the amount of water we extract from the Mitchell River and are only days away from ceasing extraction altogether if there is no significant rainfall,” the EGW spokesperson said.

“Fortunately, because of careful forward planning, we were able to extract most of our water during the winter and spring months, when river flows were greatest. This enabled us to top up our storages with enough water to meet customer demand through the summer months.

“We are constantly monitoring the situation. While there are currently no water restrictions, customers are reminded that Permanent Water Saving Rules do apply and details of these can be found on our website.”