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Wimmera Development Association (WDA) is the peak economic development organisation for the Wimmera Southern-Mallee region supporting existing local businesses, and promoting economic development opportunities to investors.
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Wimmera River injects $4.75 million into local economy


Wednesday March 21, 2018


DSCN1685Wimmera 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 hereWimmera River Economic Value


End of release


Stage two of water study kicks off in the Wimmera Southern Mallee

IMG 4621New research into the economic and health benefits generated by waterways in the Wimmera Southern Mallee is about to enter its second stage.

The socio-economic research by Street Ryan plans to repeat its assessment each year up to 2020. Last year’s research revealed the mental health benefits and economic income generated from rivers, weir pools and lakes to Victorians across the region. The report, which may provide a benchmark for other research across the state, found that water provides a critical outlet for physical and mental relaxation, improving the overall health and wellbeing of residents and visitors – more important than ever during times of drought.

Last year’s research commissioned by Wimmera Development Association (WDA) and funded by the Andrews Labor Government found that participation in recreational water activities in the region saw a total cost saving of more than $8.5 million dollars to both the health and mental health sectors in 2016-17. The study highlighted that more than 437,000 locals and visitors visited the 24 waterways analysed in the Wimmera Southern Mallee region in 2017 with a total economic benefit of $27.5 million.

Water for Victoria, recognises the recreational value of water to communities and the role water plays in helping sustain resilient, strong and healthy communities. New water legislation champions the requirement for water managers to consider the benefit and values of recreational water to communities. As part of this recognition, we have recently committed to fund works at Green Lake at Sea Lake so the whole community can gain from the benefits recreational water brings.

The Labor Government is also strongly supporting recreational fishing through our Target One Million plan.

This year’s study will go into more depth to understand the health benefits of the region’s waterways. The project will undertake surveys and collect data from across the region at locations where individuals and groups enjoy our lakes, rivers and weir-pools for recreational activity. It will also assess some waterways not previously included such as Lake Toolondo. Online interviews will be able to be completed by the community from January 1st to March 31st via the Wimmera Development Association website (www.wda.org.au).

This project involves a cooperative effort with local government and local community groups to catalogue the various benefits recreational and environmental water in rivers, weir pools and lakes provide to towns in the region and try and quantify them in terms of social and economic benefits. For example the Jeparit Fishing Competition brings substantial financial benefits with visitors coming from around Victoria. Various camp grounds adjoining lakes attract campers and fishers from both within and outside the region.

This research will help understand where investment to develop infrastructure and services associated with recreational water is needed.

To complete the survey  CLICK HERE


Media Contact:

 Mr Ralph Kenyon - Executive Director

 Wimmera Development Association

 (03) 5381 6500

 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Measuring the social and economic value of recreational & environmental water in the Wimmera Southern Mallee

22nd September 2017

horsham fishing competitiondb2a026fdfec67aca7a3ff00001883abWimmera Development Association (WDA) in conjunction with project partners, Wimmera Catchment Management Authority, GWMWater and the Wimmera Southern Mallee councils has completed a socio-economic study into the value of recreational and environmental water to the region.

This study has been a cooperative effort with local government and local community groups to catalogue and quantify the various social and economic benefits recreational and environmental water in rivers, pools and lakes provide to towns in the region.

The study reports on a series of surveys and data collected from across the region at locations where individuals and groups enjoy our lakes, rivers and weir-pools for recreational activity.

Key findings from the report have estimated in 2017 in excess of 437,000 people visited the 24 waterways that were surveyed, which included over 196,000 visitor nights and a high rate of both active and passive local participation. Visitation to the surveyed sites was made up by 43% of Wimmera Southern Mallee residents, 31% other Victorian Country and 11% Melbourne. The total regional economic contribution was estimated at $27.5 million.

The report has also highlighted the important contribution to the region’s towns by providing enhanced amenity and a critical outlet for physical and mental relaxation, improving the overall health and wellbeing of residents and visitors.  

An example of the substantial financial benefits of visitors coming from around Victoria was evident during the Horsham Fishing competition, with significant expenditure surveyed, increased visitation to small businesses and reports of increased sales by many businesses. This event is one of many that attract visitors to the region on an annual basis.

Various campgrounds adjoining lakes also bring and attract campers and fishers to the region, from both within and outside the state.

“Our Water Plan champions the concept of shared benefits for water management by ensuring that authorities are planning and managing water in a way that achieves multiple positives for the community’, Water Minister Lisa Neville said. “This study is an example of how to incorporate these values into decision making and ensuring the importance of recreational values are recognised as part of local economies and in improving the health and wellbeing of communities".

One of the aims of the study was to establish a base line data set and consistent measurement methods that will allow for a longitudinal study to identify seasonal patterns in coming years. Once collected and analysed the information will provide a better understanding of the economic impact of environmental and recreational water as well as the social benefits that these resources provide to the community.

We now have a better understanding of how to measure these values so that we can plan for future tourism, recreational and infrastructure facilities. Study outputs will also help to demonstrate the local and regional impacts to both State and Commonwealth Governments in order to attract support and funding for further development of infrastructure and services associated with recreational water.

Street Ryan Pty Ltd was been appointed as project consultant to develop a series of questionnaires that will be shared with local Committees of Management, sporting clubs and others likely to have an involvement in recreational water activity. The majority of the funding for the project has been made available by the Victorian Government via the Wimmera CMA.

VIEW THE FULL REPORT HERE:  Wimmera Southern Mallee: Socio-economic value of Recreational and Environmental Water 2017

As part of WimmeraCMA's program to continually improve our communities understanding of the benefits of water for the environment a film has been released coinciding with the release of this report.  




Western Passenger Rail

WPRMore than 110,000 people live in Western Victoria, with only limited access to passenger train travel.

A further 60,000 people living in south east South Australia could also benefit from improved connectivity through Victoria to provincial and capital cities.

Regional Councils have recognised the need for improved public passenger services for many years. A recent detailed study commissioned by eight Western Victorian Councils proved there is significant demand for improved public transport and linkages to Ballarat and Melbourne.

The Western Rail Project is seeking:

  • More passenger rail services between Ararat and Melbourne
  • The return of passenger rail services to other parts of Western Victoria, including Horsham and Hamilton
  • Extra coach services to improve connections between road and rail services
  • Upgrades to all operating rail stations in Western Victoria to ensure they are accessible to disabled and elderly people.

For more information CLICK HERE

Wimmera Southern Mallee Tourism Collaboration and Destination Management Plan

Supporting a vibrant tourism industry and enhancing the Wimmera Southern Mallee’s economic diversity were identified as community priorities for this region through the Wimmera Southern Mallee Regional Partnership.  A new project has commenced to help strengthen the tourism sector, boost visitors and diversify the local economy, by establishing sustainable tourism governance model and destination management plan for the broader Wimmera Southern Mallee Region.  Details of the project and future project updates can be found in the attachments below.

April Project Update - one pager

April Project Update - detailed

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