East Coast irrigation outlined

COMMUNITY consultation yesterday highlighted Tasmanian Irrigation's preferred option for a 2000 mega-litre Swan River irrigation scheme at Swansea Town Hall.

The consultation is an initial step for the project, which this week gained a $30 million budget allocation from the state government.

The project requires a further $110 million from the federal government and private capital from farmers to proceed.

Tasmanian Irrigation chief executive officer Chris Oldfield said the project would offer growth opportunities to the region.

``The region is an area of high-level agricultural potential, but lacks sufficient reliable water to pursue further opportunities,'' Mr Oldfield said.

``Today is a milestone for the Swan River irrigation scheme project, which, if built, would help reduce both the effects of ongoing droughts on local farming communities, as well as providing water for new ventures.''

The scheme would take water from the Swan River and deliver it to agricultural operations across the East Coast via a 38-kilometre network of underground pipes.

Mr Oldfield said up to 32 full-time positions were expected to be created on-farm and in the farm service and tourism industries if the project is approved.

``The East Coast community believes there is a strong case for such a scheme to drive the expansion of high economic value enterprises,'' he said.

Operations expected to benefit from the scheme include viticulture, grazing, irrigated cropping, walnut and wine enterprises.


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