Communique week 2

10 months ago

Efficiency measures public meetings – Week 2

Community consultation regarding water efficiency measures continued last week, with the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources listening to communities in Queensland and NSW. Meetings were held in Toowoomba, St George, Moree, Dubbo, Forbes, Griffith and Deniliquin.

Over 156 community members attended these meetings. Irrigators, business owners, industry groups and local councils have discussed their concerns and ideas with State and Commonwealth Government officials.

In the Northern Basin, the importance of engaging with Indigenous peoples was emphasised, particularly in relation to the delivery of cultural flows. Interest was also shown in employment opportunities that might arise from projects.

Meeting participants suggested governments should link up with researchers to deliver the most innovative solutions for their region. Community members saw opportunities for a regional co-design approach in some locations, particularly where urban, industrial and integrated on and off-farm projects could be coordinated.

Communities wanted the Department to explore opportunities to improve water security and management of environmental flows. They discussed options such as deepening water storages, constructing cells within current storages, and creating new off-river storages.

Potential socio-economic concerns included the cumulative impacts of water recovery, employment losses, skills shortages in emerging industries and climate change.

Concerns were also raised about past impacts of the Basin Plan implementation (particularly large buybacks), the low water allocations in some regions, management of environmental water, and that pricing incentives were not enough to attract farmers to participate in the program.

In the Southern Basin, participants were concerned about the risks of a further 450 GL of water recovery, cumulative impacts, profiteering, and the effect of the program on the water market. There was a strong view by many participants that no further water recovery should occur. There were also a few participants seeking to engage in the program.

Participants offered some options for additional criteria to mitigate some of the risks identified during the sessions.

Communities expressed the need for governments and officials to work together at all levels - Commonwealth, State and Local. Importantly, this included developing plans and implementing projects at whole of river, state and regional/community levels.

This week sees the department travel to South Australia for meetings in Renmark on 5th November and Murray Bridge on 6th November. The consultation period has also been extended to include additional public meetings in Mildura on 14th November and Swan Hill on 15th November with further meetings being scheduled in Balranald and Rochester. There will also be a webinar on 19th November.

Everyone is able to have their say. Interested parties can complete the survey, lodge a submission or participate in the online webinar. Details are available at haveyoursay.agriculture.gov.au/water-efficiency.

Statistics

Town No. Attendees Top 3 attendee Demographics
Toowoomba 7 Local/State/Federal Government - 28% Representative - 28% Farmers/Irrigators- 28%
St George 18 Local/State/Federal Government - 33% Farmers/Irrigators- 27% Indigenous - 16%
Moree 8 Local/State/Federal Government - 62% Representative - 25% Community - 13%
Dubbo 6 Local/State/Federal Government - 50% Representative - 33% Industry - 17%
Forbes 4 Representative - 50% Local/State Government - 25% Farmers/ Irrigators- 25%
Griffith 45 Farmers/Irrigators- 46% Local/State/ Federal Government - 20% Representative - 11%
Deniliquin 68 Farmers/ Irrigators - 76% Local/State/Federal Government - 13% Representative - 8%