Southern Forests Irrigation Scheme

About This Campaign

The Southern Forests Irrigation Scheme (SFIS) is an agricultural irrigation scheme being developed in the Manjimup-Pemberton area in south west Western Australia. The SFIS proposal aims to secure local water supplies through a new dam, pipeline and infrastructure, allowing the commercial trading of water between farms. The estimated cost of the SFIS is $70 million, of which only $10 million will come from 68 nearby landowners. State and Federal funding will comprise more than 85% of the total cost, despite the scheme water being limited to just 68 people who make a financial contribution.

The proposed scheme will comprise a 15 Gigalitre dam and a 250km pipeline distribution network that will supply approximately 10 Gigalitres of water annually to irrigate 1700 ha of land, however only those investors that have purchased a water entitlement for the scheme will benefit. Landowners who have not contributed will get no benefit even if the pipeline passes beside their property.

Key points

  • The SFIS would impact on multiple users and industries, including water self-suppliers.
  • The SFIS will involve the clearing and/or inundation of approximately 160 hectares of valued Karri, Jarrah and Marri forest for construction of the dam wall, reservoir and pipeline. The SFIS is likely to have a significant environmental impact on threatened ecological communities and species including: Forest Red-tail Black Cockatoos; Baudin’s Black Cockatoos; Carnaby’s Black Cockatoos; Woylies; Numbats; Western ringtail possums; Quokkas; Chuditch/Western Quolls; Balstons Pygmy Perchs; Harringtons/Pink Spider Orchards; Tall Donkey Orchids.
  • The SFIS may result in the disturbance of Aboriginal heritage sites.
  • The water flows have not been proven to come from the forest rather than from the cleared agricultural land above the Donnelly River weir, where water restrictions impede opportunities to develop these properties.
  • The properties with access to the scheme water are gaining substantial personal benefit from a very targeted government handout that could be used more equitably by a greater cross section of the community.
  • There has been insufficient opportunity for stakeholders and citizens to engage in the decision-making process that has led to this proposal.
  • On the 23rd of April 2019, the Environmental Protection Authority announced the decision to assess the proposal with a Public Environmental Review.


A large number of community members have raised concerns with Diane regarding this Scheme.

Tabling of a petition on the 27th of June 2019 on the grounds that the community oppose the scheme, containing 862 signatures.

In May 2019, Diane met with a group of concerned farmers from along the Donnelly River to hear their concerns about the Scheme and the planned dam at Record Brook, as well as the need to reassess how water rights are determined. Read more about the visit here.

Diane has been asking questions in parliament to understand that the safety of our community’s water and environment is considered. Questions asked: Research and community consultationImpact on other water usersBlockchain and alternatives.

Diane entered a submission to the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) during the recent Environmental Assessment submission period, requesting that the EPA undertakes a Public Environmental Review (PER) of the Southern Forests Irrigation Scheme (SFIS) proposal. Diane remains hopeful the EPA assessment may be where this scheme stalls.

A Poem From a Concerned Young Farmer

“This poem was sent to me by an 11-year-old farmer. A farmer! Her description of herself, not mine.”

“I love it. What moves me most is that somebody so young sees herself as a farmer. What a strong sense of identity, and understanding of the environment this young farmer has.

Not many careers start so young. This is the next generation: the intangible, countless, unending wave of time, to shine we owe a responsibility to give a healthy, functional society — and whom we must cede power to as we surrender to the knowledge that only they can shape their world into the future.

Thank you Maggie for caring, enough to take some — any — form of action.

I hear you. I hope more listen.”

Diane Evers

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