The Australian Dairy Industry Council has welcomed the announcement of an environmental offset package to close the remaining gap to meet the Murray-Darling Basin Plan’s 2750Gl target.
Basin state governments made the decision in Canberra on Friday.
ADIC Water Taskforce chair Daryl Hoey said the package would mean environmental water was used more efficiently, allowing the water recovery target to be reduced by more than 600Gl.
‘‘The projects recover water through complementary and efficiency projects, which is crucial for the basin’s health and reducing socio-economic pain,’’ Mr Hoey said.
‘‘This is why the basin states’ announcement at their March meeting of an independent socio-economic analysis beyond what is legislated is so crucial.
‘‘We look forward to working with Ernst and Young in their socio-economic analysis of the Southern Basin and in delivering a triple bottom line.’’
State water ministers expressed confidence for the proposed environmental offset projects and measures that would deliver more than 600Gl in offsets.
Mr Hoey said it was essential that the offsets package fully closed the remaining gap to meet the plan’s 2750Gl target.
‘‘Australian Dairy Farmers (a constituent body of ADIC) has strongly advocated for the recovery of 650Gl in offsets and would like to see the basin states deliver the full 650Gl to be sure no further water is recovered from irrigators.’’
The basin state governments must notify the Murray-Darling Basin Authority of the agreed offset package of projects by June 30 and the MDBA will make a final decision on the projects at the end of the year.
National Irrigators Council chief executive officer Steve Whan said basin water ministers appeared to have achieved something on Friday that looked very difficult only a year ago.
‘‘Reaching an agreement on Sustainable Diversion Limit adjustment measures, the so-called ‘down-water’ and on the Northern Basin review,’’ Mr Whan said.
‘‘The NIC also welcomes the fact that the ministers’ communique is now making strong commitments to pursue the sort of complementary measures that our organisation has been advocating.
‘‘This meeting saw a tick for supply measures as a part of the 650Gl SDL adjustments to be submitted to the MDBA, be assessed and for the planning to start for implementation over the next seven years.’’