The supply of water to our farms and cities in Australia has always been an issue.
Between 1894 to 1896 The Victorian Parliament held a Royal Commission on Water Supply. In a Report of the Royal Commission appointed to inquire into and report as to the financial position and prospects of the various local bodies that have obtained loans from the state for the construction of works of water supply, and as to the position generally of the schemes under the control of those bodies : and to inquire into the financial prospects of the various water supply works carried out by the state as national undertakings, and their suitability for the purposes for which they were designed and constructed, etc.
Carl Rudolph Hoffmann’s family moved and settled in the Victorian Mallee from the Adelaide hills around the 1870s. His son, Johann Gotthilf Hoffmann (George) was called as a witness regarding the Western Wimmera (Irrigation and Water Supply) Trust.
28th July 1894
Gotthilf Hoffman, sworn and examined.
8284. By the Chairman. – What are you? -A farmer. I am in the Shire of Dimboola, connected with the Western Wimmera Irrigation Trust. I have had no benefit from the Trust whatever. I have to pay my rate of 1 shilling in the £1 beside the shire rate. If the farmers out there want water they have to cart it. I am 11 miles from here in the parish of Katyil. We have no channel in our parish; it runs to the boundary of our parish. The nearest channel is 4.5 miles from me, that is the nearest tank. The tank is on a 5-chain road; it is a very small tank; it would only last a fortnight if the farmers had all to cart water. There are some ratepayers further up who have to cart water now; they have to cart it 9 or 10 miles. They got it from a dam sunk by the shire council.
8285. Are you in favour of the shire having the management of its own affairs?- Yes. We have a Farmers’ Union out there, and we have studied this water question for the last six months; and we have come to the conclusion that it would be better if the Government were to take over the head-works, the remainder given to the shire council, and a different rate charged to the farmers. Those a distance off should be charged less. As things are now, farmers are greatly disappointed about it, and many are talking about leaving the district. In many cases they have to pay a higher rate than the rent to the Government.
8286. Do you think it would be advisable to allow the Trusts to appoint a valuer to fix those different rates? – I think it would be a fair thing.
8287. Would there be a danger if the valuer were appointed by the Trusts of fixing a sum to the detriment of those who are on the river and who receive no benefit from the irrigation? Those who are near the river do not require the Trust water. I think they should be put on a differential rate, and water should be carried out to those farms lying out to the north where they cannot get river water. Irrigation in my district cannot be got; if we were all to ask for water for irrigation the Trust would not have the water; all we ask for is the stock and domestic supply.
8288. You ask that the shire should be allowed to take over the business, and the Government should take over the head-work and allot the water? – Yes.
8289. by Mr. Langdon. – Are you in the mallee? – I hold a mallee block.
8290. What is your opinion as to the best means of providing water for the people in that part of the country? – I think the Government should take over the head-works for a stock and domestic supply.
8291. When you are away from any rivers, creeks, or other water, what is the best means of collecting water? – That is more than I can say. In a dry season I have seen the Wimmera River dried up altogether.
8292. Will the land out there hold water – are there good catchments in the locality? – In different
8293. Would it not be well to excavate tanks? – We did sink tanks. I believe in dams and tanks made by the shire council away from the Trust altogether. Now we have neither Trust water nor dams.
The witness withdrew.