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    Melissa Abernethy, Piper Holland and Ellarah Abernethy at Jeparit Fishing Competition.

Wimmera River events drive economy

By Jessica Grimble 

Major Wimmera River events have attracted more than $800,000 to the Wimmera economy in the first-half of the year. 

A Wimmera Development Association and Wimmera Catchment Management Authority study found the Horsham Fishing Contest in March, with 1031 competitors among 1753 attendees, generated more than $500,000 in economic activity for the region. 

The study found the three-day Peter Taylor Memorial Barefoot Water Ski Tournament and Night Jump at Dimboola in February, with 2200 attendees, generated more than $185,000; while the Jeparit Fishing Contest at Easter, with 648 attendees, generated more than $105,000. 

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The study of the economic contribution of the three events, called ‘Economic value: Selected Wimmera River events 2022’ and led by consultants Street Ryan, is part of an ongoing broader assessment of how weirs, lakes and rivers contribute to the economic and social integrity of the regional economy. The study has been underway for the past six years.

Wimmera Development Association project manager Mark Fletcher said the longitudinal study gave key decision-makers and stakeholders critical information to plan for future tourism, recreational and infrastructure facilities. 

He said the study demonstrated local and regional impacts, which helped to attract state and federal government funding for future projects. 

“These reports continue to show the considerable contribution that the recreational and environmental water sites make to the region,” Mr Fletcher said. 

“It cannot be underestimated, the significant impact that these sites and events make to the region’s economy and the flow-on mental health and wellbeing of our communities as COVID-19 restrictions eased.” 

Wimmera CMA chief executive
David Brennan said the study showed the value of an integrated approach to managing ‘critically important’ environmental assets.

“We work to maintain healthy rivers and streams – often through the complexities associated with limited access to precious water during a series of dry years,” he said.

“What’s important is that this is as much about looking after people, communities and liveability as it is about protecting and improving aquatic and riverine ecosystems – environmental health works hand-in-glove with socio-economic vibrancy. There is no better example of this than in the Wimmera.

“The Wimmera River system is a vast arterial network from its source in the Pyrenees to the terminal lakes of the southern Mallee and represents the lifeblood of many communities.” 

The 2022-23 instalment of the ‘Wimmera Southern Mallee: Socio-economic value of recreational and environmental water’ study starts in November. 

It will engage with recreational water participants, committees of management, sporting clubs and other groups involved in recreational water activity. 

The State Government’s Water for Victoria program, via the Wimmera CMA, will fund the study. 

Previous instalments of the study have provided important information supporting capital investment and grant applications of about $10-million. 

Organisations such as the Wimmera CMA, GWMWater and Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning have used the study’s findings for future planning; while GWMWater has used results when planning allocation of pipeline water to recreational lakes and weir pools. 

People can read the previous studies via 

Wimmera Development Association is the peak advocacy body behind many major, emerging projects in the region. It supports businesses, promotes economic development opportunities to investors and is a key link between industry and governments, lobbying for improved infrastructure and for regional priority issues. 

The entire July 27, 2022 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!

The entire July 27, 2022 edition of AgLife is available online. READ IT HERE!