Arguably the most important social institutions in the small communities of Loddon are its sports clubs. Sports clubs provide opportunities for local people of all ages and abilities to come together to take part in, support or watch physical activities such as lawn bowls, tennis, golf, netball, hockey, cricket and football. Whilst there are many health benefits associated with being physically active, the social benefits of getting together on a regular basis with friends and neighbours cannot be overstated. Without access to sports facilities (which are nearly all very dependent on water), life for many people in Loddon Shire would be significantly degraded. Further, lack of lifestyle opportunities such as the availability of sports clubs will make it harder to attract new residents and businesses to the area and may even result in a population decline. This in turn impacts negatively on all aspects of the region, including schools, health services, existing businesses, existing sports clubs and other community organisations. In recent years, sports clubs in Loddon Shire have faced many challenges such as declining population levels, ageing of the community, maintenance and replacement of ageing infrastructure, increased number of regulations, etc. However, one of the biggest challenges of all has been climate change and the impact of a ten year drought. Climate change has had a significant impact on the ability of sport and recreation clubs to access water to maintain sports grounds to a satisfactory standard. Rainfall levels have decreased, temperatures have increased and access to potable or irrigation water through water authorities has decreased. Accompanying these climatic changes, local water authorities have implemented water restrictions across Loddon Shire, reducing the amount of water available for irrigation of farms, residences and sports grounds. This has negatively impacted sports grounds: This strategy has identified a number of works to reduce water use; to increase the security of supply of water; and reduce leakage of storage systems at sport and recreation facilities in Loddon Shire, with the ultimate aim of ‘drought proofing’ sports facilities. The implementation of water saving measures such as water tanks, warm season grasses, in-ground irrigation systems, thermal pool blankets, etc will reduce the amount of water required and also reduce ongoing operational costs; thereby improving the ongoing financial viability of some clubs. When implemented, the actions will allow sport and recreation facilities to be developed and maintained to a safe standard for all year use in the Loddon Shire community and in some instances will help to reduce ongoing operational costs (both human and financial), thereby helping to retain these invaluable community assets for the next generation. The works proposed in this Strategy are therefore designed to ‘climate proof’ as many sporting facilities in Loddon Shire as possible and at the same time help communities to retain their invaluable sport and recreation assets.
Communityvibe, Eco success and Sportsturf for Loddon Shire Council: 2011