Worth wait: Water Minister Peter Walsh speaks at a media conference on Monday.THE completion of the Living Ballarat project provides a plan for how Ballarat will use water in the future.
The project has been widely criticised for delays and the length of time it has taken to produce results.
But Living Ballarat control board chairman Dr Mark Harris said despite the criticism, Ballarat had pioneered the program for other regions, meaning the process would be easier in the future.
“It feels fantastic to have the project finished,” he said.
“The reality was that to have the science done properly took longer than we thought. It was difficult.”
The plan has a big focus on the use of stormwater and recycled water across the region to take the pressure off current water supplies.
Water Minister Peter Walsh said a key part of the framework would be setting out what source of water would be used for what task.
“It is about having the right water for the particular program and watering that you are doing and using that to increase the liveability for your particular community,” he said.
“It is an area where Ballarat has pioneered the project. It was an issue driven by the Committee for Ballarat back in the day.”
Mr Walsh said people who criticised the project had not been well informed.
“I suppose people expect something to happen in one day. This is a whole change of how you think about the management of water in urban communities,” he said.
City of Ballarat chief executive Anthony Schinck described the result as “ground-breaking”.
“With Ballarat’s population growing so significantly, we need to provide the setting in both a regulatory form and also in terms of water-smart, sustainable urban design,” he said.
“We are certainly looking at the policy context for how we use and re-use water.”
Part of the report says the City of Ballarat will establish minimum water standards for all new buildings and subdivisions by January 2016.
Funds to introduce Living Ballarat project across the region Benefits: MP Peter Walsh with Wendouree Primary School principal Christine Branagh and pupils from Wendouree Primary School and Ballarat Grammar. PICTURE: JUSTIN WHITELOCK
FOUR water projects worth $1.8 million will be the starting point for introducing the Living Ballarat project across the region.
The biggest funding announcement was $967,120 to connect Ballarat Grammar and Wendouree Primary School to non-drinking water supplies for irrigating their fields and gardens.
Wendouree Primary School principal Christine Branagh said in particular the announcement would help the school with its Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden program.
“I think for us it is exciting because we can maintain our kitchen garden,” she said.
“We have put a lot of effort and resources into this and we want it to be sustainable for a long time.”
Ballarat Grammar assistant headmaster Rob Gray said it was about using the right sort of water for the right task.
Mr Gray said the school had experienced some hard times during the drought and struggled to keep its fields and gardens green.
“We had been using the aquifer to water our ovals but, as you know, everyone was tapping into it and soon there was no water,” he said.
“This enables us to have decent playing fields right through a drought, should we have another drought, but let’s hope we don’t.”
Other projects included $503,900 to connect Central Highlands Agribusiness Forum and Ballarat Grammar’s Mount Rowan agricultural research facility to recycled water, $191,900 to allow Pinarc Disability Support to refurbish its office building to capture and re-use rainwater, and $132,000 for a stormwater and harvest and re-use system at Hepburn Springs Golf Club.
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