Communique week 1

10 months ago

Efficiency measures public meetings – Week 1

The first week of public meetings has seen robust and informative discussions on the Efficiency Measures Program. The community shared their views and ideas on the program, suggested other criteria and discussed risks and opportunities for local farmers, irrigators and the community.

The Murray-Darling Basin governments are seeking community and industry views on potential additional assessment criteria for on-farm water efficiency projects to ensure they produce neutral or positive social and economic outcomes. This week saw the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources officers travel to Mildura, Swan Hill, Kerang, Echuca and Shepparton.

Over 200 community members, including irrigators, business owners, industry groups and local council representatives joined with state and Commonwealth government officials at each meeting, with the largest group of participants being farmers and irrigators.
Participants voiced some concerns with the implementation of the Murray‑Darling Basin Plan, including about the historical impacts of water recovery, constraints on the delivery of environmental water, as well as making suggestions on additional criteria for on-farm projects.

Many irrigators were concerned at the prospect of further water recovery in their district. However, there were also a few farmers who wanted to participate in the new water infrastructure program.

Some socio-economic risks identified in the meetings included potential impacts on the price of water, impacts on the cost of running irrigation networks and the rapid growth in horticulture putting more pressure on available water. There was discussion about whether the project criteria can adequately address these risks and the importance of considering impacts across regions and not just local impacts.

Participants were generally receptive to the idea of water efficiencies focussed on urban, industrial, off-farm and metering, but were concerned whether there would be sufficient proposals to meet the 450 GL target. It was also suggested that additional criteria could be applied to these projects.

The consultants, Seftons and Associates, are capturing everything people are telling us so that we can provide a full and accurate report to Basin Ministers when they meet later this year.

Next week sees the department travel to Queensland, NSW and Victoria. The Department is looking forward to listening to communities at meetings in Toowoomba, St George, Moree, Dubbo, Forbes, Griffith and Deniliquin.

Everyone is able to have their say at haveyoursay.agriculture.gov.au.

Attendance summary

Town No. Attendees Top 3 attendee Demographics
Mildura 39 Farmer/Irrigator 32% Local/state officials 28% Natural Resource Management Rep 18%
Swan Hill 31 Farmer/Irrigator 52% Local/state officials 28% Community 8%
Kerang 32 Farmer/Irrigator 68% Local/state officials 6% Community 6%
Echuca 48 Farmer/Irrigator 42% Local/state officials 18% Business Owner 8%
Shepparton 58 Farmer/Irrigator 32% Community 18% Water Authority 13%