Basin win for irrigation communities

11 Jun, 2018 04:30 PM
Comments
0
 
MinCo agreed to prioritise off-farm recovery and that new criteria would be developed by NSW and Victoria to asses socio-economic impacts.
In the meantime, let’s get cracking on the off-farm, urban and industrial projects.
MinCo agreed to prioritise off-farm recovery and that new criteria would be developed by NSW and Victoria to asses socio-economic impacts.

Murray Darling Basin communities had a win on Friday, with the council of interstate water ministers resolving to pursue off-farm water sources in the recovery of a 450 gigalitres bucket of ‘upwater’ which is required for the environment by 2024.

The Ministerial Council met in Canberra amid a gathering of people who had converged from across the Basin to remind the politicians of the economic pain they see flowing from water recovery.

On-farm infrastructure schemes have been mooted as the prime source of the upwater.

But farmer representatives are concerned at the impact of reductions to irrigation entitlements, which form the backbone of many Basin economies.

Community groups have been urging ministers to instead steer a course towards off-farm recovery methods.

They argue recovery from sources such as recycling stormwater from urban areas, or capturing water from industrial use, should be used to limit socio-economic impacts on regional communities.

Communities and farm groups have also been concerned that the Basin Plan for criteria for socio-economic outcomes missed impacts of water recovery on towns.

The criteria currently in use assesses the impact of water recovery on a farm-by-farm basis, rather than on a regional scale.

Speaking after Friday's meeting, Federal Water Minister David Littleproud delivered what will be welcome news to many across the Basin.

MinCo agreed to prioritise off-farm recovery and that new criteria would be developed by NSW and Victoria to asses socio-economic impacts.

The Federal Water Department will launch an infrastructure investment scheme for off-farm recovery – which will be extended to include on-farm works in South Australia, Queensland and the ACT.

Mr Littleproud said a potential 369GL had been identified for recovery from off-sources.

“The 450GL will only be delivered with neutral or positive social and economic outcomes. MinCo has agreed to this,” Mr Littleproud said.

“We need further work to develop detailed additional criteria defining neutral or positive socio-economic impacts. We'll aim to have this done by Christmas.

“In the meantime, let’s get cracking on the off-farm, urban and industrial projects.”

National Irrigators Council chief executive Steve Whan welcomed the off-farm focus, and the commitment to reassess socio-economic impacts.

“There are no losers today and there will be no losses for the environment either, the upwater will still be delivered,” Mr Whan said.

“Very sensibly, they’re doing this in a way that respects that one-size-fits-all on-farm efficiency schemes aren’t appropriate.”

Victoria Water Minister Lisa Neville took a stand against on-farm upwater in the lead up to MinCo.

“We’ll take off-farm projects to the table in Canberra that we can deliver — but we will not commit to on-farm works, which will just hurt Victorian communities,” Ms Neville said on Thursday.

The Basin Plan was designed to deliver environmental benefits equivalent to returning 3200 gigalitres of water to the environment.

The Plan has two big buckets of water to fill: 2750GL worth of so-called ‘downwater’ and 450GL of ‘upwater’.

Upwater

The crucial point about upwater is the Basin Plan rules require that it does not have net negative impacts on Basin communities.

The ministers also committed to deliver by June next year up to 64GL of the upwater, with around 25GL to 30GL coming from identified on-farm and stormwater works, and more than 35GL to come from NSW – which look likely to come from off-farm and toolkit measures in the Northern Basin.

An on-farm irrigation efficiency pilot to recover 2GL to 5GL is underway in South Australia. In Victoria channel upgrades and pipelining are slated to deliver up to 9GL and in the Australian Capital Territory an urban water initiative is expected to yield 15GL.

Downwater

Basin Plan rules make at least 62GL of upwater contingent to the Murray Darling Basin Authority's approval of downwater projects – which are a suite of 37 infrastructure works and rule changes that deliver savings equivalent to 605GL being returned to the environment.

The 2750GL of ‘downwater’ bucket is nearly full. The 605GL worth of equivalency measures is all that’s required to top it up. The 2750GL came three ways:

*Direct buybacks of water entitlements from irrigators.

*Commonwealth investment schemes that swap a portion of an irrigators water holdings for financial contributions to make farm infrastructure more efficient.

*Offset projects – which are river works and measures that move water more to environmental assets like wetlands more efficiently.

Page:
1

POST A COMMENT


Screen name *
Email address *
Remember me?
Comment *
 
Gippsland dairyfarmers Paul and Lisa Mumford have ridden the Focus Farm rollercoaster through one of the toughest periods in recent memory.
30 May 18 Gippsland dairyfarmers Paul and Lisa Mumford have ridden the Focus Farm rollercoaster through one of the toughest...
Profiting from pasture Haydn Pocock only needs to look at his paddocks in spring to see the impact of Feeding Pastures for Profit (FPFP).
29 May 18 Profiting from pasture Haydn Pocock only needs to look at his paddocks in spring to see the impact of Feeding...
light grey arrow
The helmet requirement is plain stupid as is mandatory helmets on pushbikes - have a read of the
light grey arrow
Why does Adam insist on doing the biding of the processors? That is their line and he has
light grey arrow
The dairy industry is unnatural, unhealthy and extremely cruel.
Dairyfarmers around Australia have used grants to install new equipment in the dairy to help cut energy costs.
01 Jun 18 Dairyfarmers around Australia have used grants to install new equipment in the dairy to help cut energy costs.
Advertiser content for McLanahan
WITH a passion for innovation and their usual focus on products that are robust and reliable, global supplier McLanahan Corporation, has released a complete system for managing pasture based livestock effluent.02 May 18 Advertiser content for McLanahan WITH a passion for innovation and their usual focus on products that are robust...
Australian farm chemical manufacturer Nufarm has repaired its balance sheet and is now hunting for acquisition opportunities.25 Sep 16 Australian farm chemical manufacturer Nufarm has repaired its balance sheet and is now hunting for acquisition...
Monopoly market may confront cropping sector under mega-merger proposal.22 Sep 16 Monopoly market may confront cropping sector under mega-merger proposal.