Victoria must seize the opportunity to build Big Buffalo and boost water security for irrigators in the north-east after the Federal Budget delivered an unprecedented $2 billion for water infrastructure.
Labor Water Minister Lisa Neville has stubbornly refused to make the most of the Federal Liberal Nationals Government’s willingness to fund priority water projects.
Leader of The Nationals Peter Walsh said investigating the expansion of water storages at Lake Buffalo, near Myrtleford, made sense.
“Expanding the storage at Lake Buffalo is just the sort of big, nation-building project the National Water Grid Authority was established to investigate,” Mr Walsh said.
“Big Buffalo has the potential to make water supplies in northern Victoria more reliable and to save up to 130GL of evaporative losses by reducing the system’s reliance on Lake Victoria in south west NSW.
“This Federal water infrastructure funding is an ideal opportunity to advance Big Buffalo, all that’s standing in the way is Lisa Neville’s unwillingness to submit it for investigation.”
Big Buffalo would investigate increasing the existing dam capacity of 23,900 megalitres – just six per cent of the mean annual flow of the Buffalo River – up to 1 million megalitres.
Mr Walsh said water savings would deliver more secure entitlements for irrigators.
“With more secure entitlements, irrigators can look forward to a higher percentage of their water allocations than they currently see each year,” Mr Walsh said.
“Climate experts are predicting we will see more intense rainfall events and longer periods of drought so we need to make sure we’re capturing that rain when it falls.
“The Federal Liberal Nationals Government is ready and willing to fund big new water infrastructure, what’s lacking is the support of the Andrews Labor Government.”