Water Week

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Victoria’s Wimmera-Mallee pipe­line’s new five-year water plan; Grampians Water revised cost means water price increase of 17.1 per cent for taxpayers and water users

Posted by waterweek on 17 October 2007

The cost of the Wimmera-Mallee pipe­line had blown out by more than a third to at least $688 million, reported The Age (16/8/2007, p. 6).

Revised cost of project is $688 million: The $187 million price rise for the plan to lay 8800 kilometres of pipe, which was expected to save the equivalent of 100,000 Olympic pools of water, did not include $82 million for projects on farms that would be funded by farmers. In its new five-year water plan, Grampians Wimmera Malice Water revealed that the revised cost of the pro­ject was $688 million, raising questions about who would pay for the increase.

Project to save 103,000 megalitres of water a year: After years of wrangling over financ­ing for the project, the Bracks govern­ment announced in June 2005 that the pipeline would be jointly financed by Grampians Water and the state and fed­eral governments, with each contribu­ting a third to the $501 million cost. The Wimmera-Mallee pipeline would replace 17,500 kilometres of open earth channels with piping, delivering water to farms and towns. The project was estimated to save 103,000 megalitres of water a year and was expected to be completed by the end of 2010.

Pipeline hit by high oil prices and mining boom: Grampians Water said the original price for the project was set in 2003 and since then the pipeline had been hit by the impact of high oil prices and the mining boom. Spokesman Andrew Rose said oil prices had increased the cost of pipes and transportation, and the resource boom meant there was high demand for contractors, pushing up prices. “For contractors to hire a con­struction engineer it is incredibly dear, compared with four years ago,” he said. The Grampians Water plan also recommended a water price increase of 17.1 per cent for its area. Shadow water minister Louise Asher said the cost increases would have to be met by taxpayers and water users.

The Age, 16/8/2007, p. 6


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