The last few months have been a particularly uncertain time for the many farmers and irrigators who rely on water from the Murray Darling Basin. Following the release of the Mathews Report last year, the government has proposed a series of reforms on areas such as metering, environmental water, transparency and floodplain harvesting.
In February, Labor sided with the Greens to disallow an amendment resulting from the Northern Basin review which would reallocate 70GL of water back to productive use. There was concern that Labor would support the Greens again with their latest disallowance motion.
This motion was due to be debated in parliament on the May 8 and sought to disallow the inclusion of ‘Sustainable Diversion Adjustment Mechanism Projects’ in the plan. If successful this would disallow the 605GL of water projected to be saved through efficiency projects, and contribute to the overall environmental water recovery target. Fortunately, due to bipartisan opposition from both Labor and the Coalition the motion was not successful.
NSW Farmers is pleased that both major parties could put politics aside and vote to maintain efficiency projects as a secure feature of the Basin plan.
The plan sets out an environmental water recovery target of 2,750 GL, of which it was originally agreed up to 650GL could be delivered through water saving projects. There are currently 36 approved projects which are estimated to deliver 605GL.
The 36 projects on the table are not without their problems, which need careful attention as we move forward through the process. However, NSW Farmers strongly supports this concept, and we’ve always believed that there should be scope for the continuing entry of new and innovative projects. The plan must have the flexibility to amend or remove projects that are not working and support the development of new projects that are more appropriate.