Wednesday March 21, 2018
Wimmera River injects $4.75 million into local economy
A study into the value of water for the environment reveal the Wimmera River contributed $4.75 million to the economy in 2017 with fishing competitions providing major boosts.
Last year's Horsham Fishing Competition on the Labour Day weekend injected around $400,000 into the region and Jeparit’s Easter event, $144,000.
Horsham Fishing Competition committee president Adele Rohde, speaking after the successful 2018 event, said information in the report was critical to the sustainability of the annual event.
"As a mostly volunteer committee, we don't have the resources or expertise to undertake this kind of detailed research and having that data is critical to us being able to attract support for future fishing comps," she said.
"This year's long weekend included a lot of events around the fishing comp, creating a carnival type atmosphere in the town, and it's fantastic to see the people coming here to enjoy our beautiful river and all that is on offer in Horsham."
Wimmera Development Association has released the figures after further analysis of 2017 results from the Wimmera Southern Mallee Socio-Economic Value Recreational and Environmental Water study.
Wimmera CMA chief executive David Brennan said this analysis provided valuable information about water for the environment, which plays a key role in maintaining river health so activities like fishing competitions can occur.
“Although this study is still in its infancy, it’s exciting to read through the results and hear it direct from the local community and visitors from afar what the Wimmera River means to them.”
The Wimmera River analysis gives researchers baseline evidence for comparison during the four-year life of the study. Analysis also shows:
- The river contributes over $2.5 million annually in physical and mental health benefits.
- Fishing is the most popular activity (23.8%) followed by attending events (17.7%) and just relaxing (17.6%).
- Walking, running and exercising along the river were the activities people participated in most frequently.
- Horsham, Dimboola and Jeparit river users exceed Australian Government recommendations of five hours physical activity each week, with a weekly total of 8.4 hours.
WDA executive director Ralph Kenyon said the findings provided critical data for future investment and development of Wimmera River sites. One example is plans for a $3-million cycling-walking-camping trail, from Dimboola to Lake Albacutya near Rainbow.
“This study is giving us a better understanding of shared benefits from water for the environment including economic and social benefits,” Mr Kenyon said.
“It allows us to demonstrate the local and regional impacts water has in our region to help attract funding and other support for developing infrastructure and services. It also shows that previous investments such as the Wimmera Mallee Pipeline, which provides a secure supply of water for the environment, continue to reap many rewards.”
WDA is coordinating the socio-economic research of 24 waterways in partnership with Wimmera CMA, GWMWater and six Wimmera Southern Mallee councils. The project is largely funded through the Victorian Government’s Water for Victoria initiative with contributions from councils and GWM water.
2017 findings estimate the 24 surveyed waterways provide a total annual economic contribution of $27.5 million, attracting more than 437,000 visitors.
- WDA encourages people to contribute to Stage 2 of the project by visiting
https://wda.org.au/ and completing the online survey before March 31.
- Download the full report of the Socio-Economic Value of Environmental Water, Wimmera River Sites 2016-17 here: Wimmera River Economic Value
End of release