Stage one of the South West Loddon Pipeline complete

This shot, taken west of Wedderburn in October 2015, indicates how dry conditions were when the community was advocating for a pipeline extension. The first stage of the new pipeline has now been opened. Picture: GLENN DANIELS
This shot, taken west of Wedderburn in October 2015, indicates how dry conditions were when the community was advocating for a pipeline extension. The first stage of the new pipeline has now been opened. Picture: GLENN DANIELS

Related: Pipeline to connect Loddon farmers

The first stage of an $80.6 million water pipeline project has been completed, improving water security for farmers in the Loddon area.

The first stage of the South West Loddon Pipeline project spans 110 kilometres, with two pump stations at Yeungroon East and Korong Vale.

The project will provide access to piped water for landowners, many of whom have had to rely on their own catchment dams or carting water.

Graham Nesbit, president of the Victorian Farmers Federation Wedderburn branch, said this access gave these farmers a “secure, reliable source of good-quality water”.

Mr Nesbit said he had spoken to one farmer who was connected on Thursday, who told him it came “just in the nick of time” because he had been relying on tank water for his spraying program and it had nearly run dry.

Another farmer, Mr Nesbit said, had been carting water for three consecutive years.

He said there had been 10 to 15 years of “extremely variable” conditions in the area, and the changing rainfall pattern and changing agricultural practices had diminished the availability of run-off, making a reliable water source harder to come by.

The project gave landowners surety, he said, and improved their capacity to plan ahead.

“The second stage can’t come soon enough,” Mr Nesbit said.

The VFF, landowners and Loddon Shire Council campaigned for a pipeline extension ahead of the project announcement almost two years ago, when the area was in the grip of drought.

The state government says forty landowners have expressed interest in being connected to the new pipeline, and about 20 of these will be connected this month.

The entire project will stretch some 1300 kilometres, connecting the Grampians and Goulburn water systems, and allow for up to 630 customer connections.

It is scheduled for completion in mid-2019.

The pipeline project has been funded by the state government, Grampians Wimmera Mallee Water and the federal government.