Victorian Water Minister Lisa Neville has backed a new campaign by a Shepparton lobby group to fight the disallowance of the water saving measures by the Senate.
The Goulburn Murray Irrigation District (GMID) Water Leadership Group has launched a campaign, demanding what it says is a ‘fair flow’ from the Murray-Darling Basin Plan.
The #Fairflow campaign comes ahead of the Senate’s consideration, next month, of an amendment to reduce the Basin Plan’s 2750gigalitre (GL) target, by up to 605GL.
Ms Neville said the projects were good for Victoria, its communities and environment, helping the state reach its water saving targets under the Murray Darling Basin Plan.
“I support their efforts to ensure common sense prevails in the senate to ensure 605GL is not disallowed,” Ms Neville said.
“They are adding a powerful voice to the Victorian Government’s position to protect our irrigation district.”
On May 8, the Senate will vote on whether or not to disallow the 605GL sustainable diversion limits (SDLs).
GMID Water Leadership co-chair David McKenzie said the SDLs enabled projects to use the existing environmental reserve more efficiently and achieve better outcomes with less water.
“Our farmers have contributed more water to the environment than any others in the southern Basin over the last decade,” Mr McKenzie said.
“We are pleased to see the 2100 GL recovered so far being used to good environmental effect in our rivers and wetlands, but politicians in Canberra need to understand enough is enough.
“Any more water from irrigators will push this region over the edge.
“It’s not fair when the Basin States have already agreed to a package of projects to get better environmental outcomes, using less water,” Mr McKenzie said.
The campaign comes at a time when Murray Darling Basin Authority chief executive Phillip Glyde has urged all parties to remain unified behind the common goals of the Basin Plan – a healthy future for the river system and the communities and industries that depend upon it.
“At the heart of these amendments is a package of projects aimed at improving how water recovered for the environment is used, so we are getting the best possible environmental outcomes from it,” Mr Glyde said.
“There is a damaging misconception in some quarters that the amendments will diminish the environmental benefits of the Plan.
“This could not be further from the truth. In fact, the projects tied to the amendment will improve our ability to achieve the Basin Plan's intended environmental outcomes.
‘If we do not stay the course, we not only risk the hard-won progress we have made to date, but also the future of our nation's most iconic river system, consigning it once again to uncertainty and instability.”
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GMID Water Leadership co-chair, Shepparton Independent MP Suzanna Sheed MP said Senators must understand how vital the amendment was, for the health of rivers and communities.
“If this amendment is disallowed, then more water will have to be recovered from irrigators,” Ms Sheed said.
“Already, more than 20per cent of the GMID’s water is owned by and allocated to the environment each year.
“Less water means less dairy, fresh fruit, vegetables and cereals, and less food manufacturing in the region.
“The Plan is already costing us $550 million a year, and we can’t afford to lose any more.
“Almost all GMID irrigators are family farmers, working hard to maintain and grow their businesses despite the continuing uncertainty of the Basin Plan.”