New water scheme?

Update. An audience of 50 turned up to hear what farmers Matthew Gunningham and Tony Clarke had to say about a proposed community-owned irrigation scheme for Circular Head.

Held at the Circular Head Community and Recreation Centre on Thursday night, Mr Gunningham voiced concerns about the current proposal put forth by state-owned company Tasmanian Irrigation, including the cost, lack of flexibility, ownership outside of the community and its future viability.

Mr Clarke then gave an overview of the aggregate of water resources in the district and options for a variety of water sources for irrigation, already identified in a report commissioned by the Circular Head Council in 2008.

Mr Clarke also provided an outline of construction costs and how a community-owned scheme could be structured.

Among questions and comments from the floor, the pair was asked why they waited until now to bring the proposition forward.

In responding, Mr Clarke said the level of interest in the TI scheme needed to be gauged prior to putting an alternative forward – the low uptake prompting them to act.

The meeting concluded with a positive vote to appoint a steering committee consisting of six local farmers who will formulate the outline of a community-owned and operated irrigation scheme, and will present structure and costs details within three months.

Meanwhile, Tasmanian Irrigation is progressing with its Circular Head Irrigation Scheme following water sales of 3650 megalitres late last year.

Since then the scheme has undergone an engineering redesign and a hydrological assessment of the Duck River to ensure a 5000ML scheme can be supported at 95 per cent reliability, among other assessments.

At present, TI board approval is being sought to open up a second round of water sales in June with the aim to sell enough water to meet the economic threshold for a 5000ML scheme.


An open meeting discussing the proposed community scheme, as well as cattle underpasses, is to be held at the Marrawah Tavern on Monday May 4 at 7.30pm. Liberal MPs Joan Rylah and Roger Jaensch will be in attendance, as well as Andrew Lester, chair of TFGA’s dairy commodity committee. For more information contact Matthew Gunningham on 0417 531 920 or Tony Clarke on 0418 228 363.

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