The Murray–Darling Basin Authority (MDBA) has acknowledged “unavoidable socio-economic consequences” for southern Basin communities.
MDBA executive director Colin Mues said total recovery from both infrastructure works and purchase, in the 41 southern Basin communities, stood at 1033.9GL.
Net reduction to water availability was 810GL when on-farm retained water savings of 67GL were taken into account.
The figures are contained in further analysis of the socio-economic impacts of the Basin Plan, on communities in the southern Basin.
Mr Mues said the analysis showed irrigated agriculture in many communities across the Basin had experienced large changes.
He said in some communities, the Basin Plan had been a major factor.
"It was always known that change of the magnitude required to save the Basin system would have some unavoidable socio-economic impacts,” Mr Mues said.
It was always known that change of the magnitude required to save the Basin system would have some unavoidable socio-economic impacts
“That is why unprecedented funding of $13 billion was allocated to its implementation—with $8 billion earmarked specifically for infrastructure programs to recover water with minimal socio-economic harm to communities.
"Even though our analysis shows that water recovery has sometimes had a large impact on irrigated activity, the impacts would have been even larger had it not been for the Australian Government's infrastructure investments.
"In other words, the method of water recovery is as significant as how much is recovered.”
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Overall, the environmental water recovery in 41 southern basin communities is comprised of:
• 156.3GL – recovered through infrastructure efficiency programs
• 877.5 GL – recovered through water purchase
The information would be used in as part of the MDBA's analysis of the community level effect of the Basin Plan, expected to be completed in May and June.
Mr Mues said the analysis highlighted one source of socio-economic pressure in Basin communities.
“Regardless of the cause of that hardship, we have an obligation not to add any further unnecessary socio-economic impacts.
"In fact, the Basin Plan mandates that we achieve the best possible balance of environmental, social and economic outcomes— the pursuit of any one of these should not come at the unreasonable expense of another.”
The Basin Plan was designed to be flexible, because it was about recovering the right amount of water, to achieve the best possible balance of environmental, social and economic outcomes.
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"That is why the amendment currently before the Parliament is so important.
"By undertaking projects that will improve how environmental water is used and delivered, we will be getting a better balance of environmental, social and economic outcomes.
"Through the projects developed by the state governments, we will actually improve our ability to meet the Plan's environmental outcomes, while avoiding any further unnecessary social and economic harm to communities.
The MDBA's analysis of socio-economic impacts of the Basin Plan across 40 communities in the Southern Basin is available at mdba.gov.au/se-communityprofiles.
As part of the Basin Plan Evaluation, the MDBA has analysed water recovery in 41 communities across the southern Basin—this information is available in an interactive online map.
On-farm infrastructure efficiency programs allow a portion of the water saved to remain with the irrigator, and the remainder is transferred to the Commonwealth and counts toward the Basin Plan's water recovery target.
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Mr Mues said the evaluation analysis confirmed water recovered through on-and off-farm infrastructure programs, rather than purchase, had less impact at the community level.