Communique week 4

11 months ago

Efficiency measures public meetings – Week 4

The Department of Agriculture and Water Resources returned to Victoria and New South Wales in the period 14-16 November to continue the community consultations. Meetings were held in Mildura, Swan Hill, Balranald and Rochester. Officials also participated by invitation in a meeting with the Murray Darling Association (MDA), the peak body for local government in the Murray-Darling Basin.

Almost 70 community members attended this week’s public meetings. Farmers, irrigators, business owners, industry groups, community members and local councils have provided feedback and asked questions of State and Commonwealth Government officials.

Officials continued to hear participants’ concerns about the risks of further water recovery, water availability, the price of water and proposals to change existing water legislation.

Participants discussed the impact on the viability of the Goulburn Murray Irrigation District due to historical buy back schemes and more recent large scale horticultural developments outside the irrigation district. They also raised the importance of metering activity throughout the Basin - particularly in the northern part of the Basin. Meetings acknowledged the potential for urban projects with local communities to provide water recovery in some locations (e.g. rebates on water tanks) and the potential for further strategic investment into irrigation districts to make them more water efficient.

Some people expressed their concerns regarding the health and wellbeing of the river and waterways – especially with current high river flows. They questioned the Commonwealth’s proposed use and storage of environmental water and noted the importance of environmental water also being managed more efficiently.

Some community members queried why Victorian and NSW farmers are currently not eligible for on-farm efficiency programs, and whether or not this would change following the consultation process.

Some people proposed exploring more water efficient crops, and some commented that on-farm projects could be undertaken with the right conditions and price incentives.

Twenty-seven local government representatives participated in the MDA meeting. Participants expressed similar concerns about the impacts of historic water recovery and their preference for no further water recovery. They indicated that any further water recovery needed to be done in a way that did not have adverse impacts on their communities. There was support for continued local government engagement in matters related to Basin Plan implementation.

There will be one further meeting in Cohuna on 28 November 2018, organised by the Victorian Farmers Federation. Interested persons can also complete a survey, lodge a submission or participate in the online webinars at haveyoursay.agriculture.gov.au/water-efficiency until 5 pm Friday 23rd November.

Statistics

Town

No. Attendees

Top 3 attendee Demographics

Mildura

15

Farmers and Irrigators - 26%

Industry – 20%

Local/State Government - 20%

Swan Hill

21

Farmers and Irrigators - 61%

Local/State Government - 19%

Community - 14%

Balranald

10

Local/State Government - 60%

Farmers and Irrigators - 40%

Rochester

21

Farmers and Irrigators - 80%

Local/State Government - 29%

Community - 14%