Point of Beginning - March 2010 - (Page 22)

Changing the Channel BY MATT FREEMAN s early as the 1890s, there had been talk of replacing the inefficient Wimmera Mallee open-channel system with a more-effective pipeline network that would provide a sustainable water supply to northwestern Victoria, Australia. But it was just talk—a pipe dream for the dryland farming and rural region extending from the Grampian Mountains in the south to the Murray River some 300 kilometers north. Throughout the 20th century, despite its inefficiencies in supporting the area’s agriculture, the channel system was extended, branching out for a total of 17,500 kilometers (10,800 miles) in length. Meanwhile, the earthen channel system continued to draw water from already taxed sources such as the Wimmera and Murray rivers; reservoirs in the Grampians; and Victoria’s largest freshwater lake, Lake Hindmarsh. Add six years of below-average rainfall at the turn of the century, regional reservoirs at LiDAR and GIS fast track Australia’s Wimmera Mallee Pipeline Project. less than 10-percent capacity, and a highly dysfunctional channel system, and the result was a dryland region that could no longer sustain agriculture or prosperity. Studies done in the late 1990s showed that of the 120,000 megaliters released into the channel system in an average year, only 17,000 or fewer were actually used by customers. The rest was lost to evaporation and leakage from the channels and farm dams. By the year 2000, it became evident that the 100-year-old pipe dream needed to become a reality, and it had to happen quickly. Without a new pipeline system, the Wimmera Mallee region’s production of livestock, wheat, barley, canola, field peas, chickpeas and faba beans would Above: The Wimmera Mallee Pipeline will supply much-needed water to the region while conserving approximately 100 billion liters previously lost to evaporation and seepage each year. Photos courtesy of GWMWater MARCH 2010 | Point of Beginning | www.pobonline.com http://www.pobonline.com

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Point of Beginning - March 2010

Point of Beginning - March 2010
Editor’s Points
Put a Lid on It
Safe Passage
Changing the Channel
‘Capturing’ the Mighty Mo
Traversing the Law
Surveying GIS
Safety Sense
New & Notable
Classified Ads
Fun & Games
Ad Index

Point of Beginning - March 2010