The Southern Forest Irrigation Scheme (SFIS) is an innovative water solution in a drying climate. When it rains in the South West a high volume of water runs out to the sea, the success of the SFIS relies on the ability to capture a small part of that deluge of water before this happens. The scheme is designed to capture water only at high flows, which are heavily regulated, so that the capture of water will not impact on the river health or environmental flow.
Farmers would not be able to harness this precious resource individually, however as a community that has come together with a joint interest in drought proofing their agricultural region in the face of climate change, they are able to provide a practical solution. The solution is possible because of contributions and support from local farming families, local businesses, agricultural businesses as well as the State and Federal Governments.
The South West is proudly known as the food bowl of WA, which will be threatened if climate change predictions come to fruition, especially in a region which is forecasted to be a highly effected area. The SFIS is an innovative and sustainable solution to that threat.
The SFIS has been unfairly compared to the Murray-Darling Basin (MDB) despite the schemes being polar opposites in many respects. Some key differences are outlined for you:
- Manjimup has more than twice the annual rainfall of the MDB – 1011mm compared to 470mm
- The SFIS will have highly regulated intake of water, which means there is no over extraction and environmental flows are maintained for river health
- No expensive buy backs
- MDB provides water to two thirds of Australia’s irrigated farmland, which spreads over 4 states, the SFIS are providing a definitive local region with capped water supply
- Equitable governance and administration for all members
- Based on best practise models tried and tested in Tasmania
The SFIS are committed to ensuring that stringent environmental targets are met, with a project that allows the region and community to continue to prosper and grow by adapting to climate change. If you want to find out more about the scheme email your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.