ONE of Victoria's most controversial drainage schemes is dead and almost buried.Goulburn-Murray Water is selling 3000ha of poor farming land at Tresco between Swan Hill and Kerang.
It is the final chapter of a bitter fight between farmers and the State Government over a misguided scheme to stop salty irrigation water polluting the Murray River.
The Hamer Liberal Government spent more than $6 million in the early 1980's acquiring the farm land, building powerlines, culverts and bridges in what was called the Mineral Reserve Basin Scheme.
The plan was to take the salty water via the Barr Creek through Lake Tutchewop and onwards by a series of channels for about 80km to the state's biggest salt lake at Lake Tyrrell near Sea Lake.
"We have been to hell and beyond,'' neighbouring farmer Ray Jewson said.
"No-one should have had to go through what we did.''
In a 1985 Supreme Court tussle with undertones of The Castle, the farmers fought the then State Rivers and Water Supply Commission into a draw.
The farmers formed the Inland Salinity Action Group with Mr Jewson as the chair to combat the move which would see the Government compulsorily acquire some of their land but worse still take the hyper-saline water across their farms.
GMW has engaged Rural Finance to sell the land.
GMW managing director Gavin Hanlon said the decision reflected the continuing decline in local drainage volumes as a result of improved on-farm drainage management plus the water authority's plans to rationalise its assets.
The sale is expected to be completed by June.
Mr Jewson said the large culvert under the Murray Valley Highway and never used bridges will remain as the lasting legacy to the Government's folly.