Irrigator, Member Yatco Wetland Landcare Group.
25th May 2012
Peter and Tina Stivahtaris and their 3 children live on a wine grape property overlooking Yatco Lagoon.
Peter purchased the property in 1997 when he was single, after a mate had tipped him off that a property was for sale. An ex-Berri boy, Peter was looking for a property in a nice quiet area, and the Yatco property was perfect with great views, 10 acres of Mallee bushland and fantastic birdlife.
The property had 12 acres planted to vines and Peter has since added a further 35 acres, which he gained contracts for with CCW who his father has done business with for many years. 10 acres have been recently removed in readiness for a replanting program to more popular grape varieties such as Gordo and Shiraz.
The lagoon is an important part of family life, providing access to fishing on the river, camping at Easter and long weekends, taking the kids for a swim in Middle Creek and swinging off the rope tree, and just enjoying the views.
The original plantings were on “old drip technology” and Peter had no previous experience with drippers. He sought advice from local experts and Loxton Irrigation to find out how much water to put on and how often.
A soil survey was completed on the property to give a better handle on water holding capacity in the soil which has been a good basis for irrigation management.
He uses manual soil moisture monitoring probes to maintain high water use efficiency on the property.
The onset of the drought from 2000 to 2010 was the most challenging period as water restrictions were imposed and Peter had to dig into his savings to lease water.
The drought and low flows in the river caused several problems:
- Dying native trees on the river;
- Higher salinity water in the irrigation channel;
- Water restrictions; and
- Increased costs of water.
Fortunately the recent high rivers in 2010/11 and 2012 have lifted people’s spirits in the community.
Peter is pleased the Yatco Wetland Landcare Group responded to the challenges during the drought and wanted to obtain better water quality in the irrigation channel and also improve the health of the lagoon.
The Group formation has been a good thing, and new landowners have also gotten involved. The Group has stuck together because of their common interests and because they want to see the environment returned to good health.
Peter never thought he’d see the lagoon dry. It saved water and the water saved has helped to achieve other benefits such as funding to relocate everyone’s pumps. Drying the lagoon has also been good for the area as more fish and wildlife have returned, although it is frustrating waiting to relocate pumps across to the river while the high river makes access impossible.
Peter still wants to see more flow through the lagoons to prevent salt build up, and wants to be reassured that the outlets in the embankment will enable enough salt to flush out of the lagoon.