THE State Government has launched a 50-year water plan for northern Victoria as it attempts to correct an "appalling" performance on water policy, but the policy is sure to cop criticism for its inclusion of new licencing arrangements for farm dams.
Publication of the strategy comes just weeks after a Saulwick poll found country voters believed Labor had done an appalling job on water policy.
The strategy vows to enhance the licensing of dams on farms, subject to a review by Water Minister Tim Holding.
Mr Holding said the changes addressed increased use of groundwater and a proliferation of domestic and stock dams in rural residential subdivisions had the potential to affect the security of supply for existing water users.
The Strategy outlines measures including:
• all new domestic and stock dams in rural residential subdivisions to be registered;
• guidelines to better define the size of dams for ‘reasonable’ stock and domestic use; and
• improved monitoring to measure the growth in domestic and stock consumption.
Mr Holding said the Northern Region Sustainable Water Strategy would also see changes in seasonal allocation policies so that water was set aside in reserve for drought years.
The Strategy also confirmed changes to carryover rules for the 2010-11 irrigation season, so that entitlement holders would only lose carryover water if the major dams physically spill.
"With climate change meaning we face a future with less rainfall and reduced streamflows, the Strategy provides a framework for improved certainty and flexibility for all water users," Mr Holding said.
"By developing a long-term management strategy and investing in major water savings infrastructure projects such as the $2 billion Northern Victoria Irrigation Renewal Project, the Brumby Government is supporting the future growth and prosperity of regional communities.
"Northern Victoria’s system reserve and seasonal allocation policies will change so that critical human needs can be met and irrigation systems can operate even in the driest years."
Mr Holding said the reserve system would mean irrigators get a head start each year on allocations, allowiong them to plan ahead with more certainty.
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.