Yea landholder Jan Beer said she was pleased Ernst & Young (EY) representatives had been willing to listen when her delegation met with them in Shepparton.
EY is carrying out an investigation into the recovery of 450GL of upwater, on behalf of the Ministerial Water Council.
Ms Beer said she and Loddon Valley irrigator Ken Pattison, Shepparton orchardist Peter Hall and Central Goulburn Water Services Committee (WSC) chair Peter Hacon, met with EY representatives in Shepparton.
She said she was concerned the terms of reference did not directly address the constraints mechanism. “My concern was that the constraints and efficiency measures are so interwoven it’s no use getting the 450GL, if you can’t get it down the Murray River.”
She said the EY representatives had met with Catchment Management Authorities, Goulburn-Murray Water (GMW), councils and business groups. But she said she was concerned it was not widely known anyone could put in a submission, or ask to meet with the consultants. “They haven’t met with that many people at the coal face, the irrigators, the flood plain landowners and people they should be speaking with, to get some insights.”
Kotta grower and livestock operator Andrew Christian said met with the consultants, in his role as a WSC represenative.
"They were very thorough in their approach, taking time to understand the framework around the On-Farm Irrigation Efficiency Program (OFIEP), entitlement ownership, water trading and the potential for further projects to have positive outcomes, socially economically and environmentally,” Mr Christian said. "EY have been engaged by the Federal Government to find a sustainable way to implement the plan not influenced by borders.
“Other consultants have come back with reports that align with the wants of those who they have been commissioned by - I'd suggest they are not impartial"
He said the concerns of NSW and Victoria centred around water leaving communities. “Without the 450GL this will continue to happen on a daily basis, with no semblance of a triple bottom line. It’s paramount we - as members of communities - support the mechanism of efficiency measures to return water to create positive social-economic and enviromental outcomes.”
Mr Hacon said he believed GMW was seeking to get a delegation of water service committee members together, to meet with EY. His concern was that EY was asking how the 450GL could be recovered without a negative – or a neutral – socioeconomic impact.
“The Goulburn Murray Irrigation District (GMID) has paid too heavy a price already. There is a tipping point coming where we will see the demise of the GMID.”
Efficiency figures were weighted in the authorities favour or “verged on fantasy. “I don’t believe they are saving all that water.”
He said he was not overly confident of a positive outcome. “They come along and smile at you, they say they will consider all the facts then they go on their own way,” Mr Hacon said.
“Our issue is we have the practical knowledge on what will work and what won’t work, unfortunately we don’t have any data to back it up.
“They want evidence.”
EY did not respond to questions from Stock & Land before print.