Constituency Questions No 1140
59 Parliament First Session
Asked: 11 September 2019

Constituency Question

Ms Ryan to ask the Minister for Water — My constituency question is for the Minister for Water. Will the minister visit Broken River irrigators in my electorate to consider their request for a review into their irrigation system? Labor sold out irrigators on the Broken when it decommissioned Lake Mokoan, leaving them with an ineffective and unreliable system. Irrigators now feel that their system is an opportunist one of annual supply, where they had previously had two years of stored supply.


Lake Nillahcootie, which is their only remaining water storage, misses much of the flow that comes into the system downstream from tributaries like Hollands Creek. Goulburn-Murray Water recently provided those irrigators with a season update which highlighted potential supply issues moving forward. Nillahcootie does not have the capacity to hold enough water to reliably meet the commitments of Broken River irrigators, so irrigators are rightly calling for an assessment and a review of their system to ensure the viability.

Answered: 15 October 2019
A review of the Broken System was last conducted in 2012. The Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) is currently looking at what changes in the system have occurred since then and has recently met with the Victorian Farmers Federation and some Broken irrigators to discuss the need for another review. I have also asked staff from DELWP to consult further with these Broken irrigator representatives as part of their current work.


A 2010 Victorian Auditor-General's report found that the decision to decommission Lake Mokoan was based on comprehensive and robust technical advice and was the most suitable option on environmental and cost grounds. Lake Mokoan was an extremely inefficient artificial storage which lost significant amounts of water to evaporation, had high operating and maintenance costs and suffered from persistent blue-green algae events which impacted on supply reliability. It is possible that given the low rainfall over the past year, if Lake Mokoan still existed it would currently be empty as it was in 2009 during similar conditions.


The current water availability and supply issues in the Broken System reflect the low rainfall and corresponding low runoff conditions experienced in recent years. The Broken catchment typically experiences significant variability in rainfall both within and between seasons and the Bureau of Meteorology reports that it has now received very much below average rainfall for two consecutive years.  As a result, Lake Nillahcootie is currently only 40.8 per cent full.



Hon Richard Wynne MP
Acting Minister for Water