Socio-economic data from the Northern-Basin review as part of the Murray-Darling Basin Plan should be seen as a game changer by Basin State Water Ministers, as they head into Friday’s Murray-Darling Basin Ministerial Council meeting in Mildura, according to the National Irrigators’ Council (NIC).
NIC chief executive officer Steve Whan urged ministers to focus on what matters.
“Ministers need to focus on outcomes for river health and the community rather than just ticking off numbers of gigalitres (GL). I’m hopeful that despite the sometimes-fractious debate they will do that.
“The socio-economic analysis undertaken by the MDBA as part of the Northern Basin review shows comprehensively, and scientifically, that removing productive water has a negative impact on jobs throughout a region. That scientific modelling shows that recovering 278GL in the Northern basin has cost 450 people their jobs,” he said.
Mr Whan said irrigators also wanted outcomes to be a priority.
“Irrigators want to see a genuine triple bottom line outcome out of this process. We want healthy rivers and healthy environment; we want basin communities to have bright futures; and we want viable and sustainable irrigated agriculture that can put affordable fresh fruit and vegetables in Australian kitchens.
“That includes supplying the people of Adelaide with the fresh produce they enjoy from South Australia’s irrigated areas,” he said.
The MDBA estimates water recovery as at December 31 last year as being 2027.6GL, or 73.7 per cent toward the 2750GL surface water recovery target.
ABS figures also show significant reductions in the total area being irrigated and the amount of water being used per hectare.