The release of a new report on the impact of the Murray-Darling Basin Plan on Murray irrigators is aimed at drawing attention to the loss of water to agriculture.
Representing the Southern Riverina Irrigators, Shelley Scoullar was part of a small group which travelled to Canberra last week to launch the new report by RM Consulting.
She told Country News the irrigation and community groups were wanting to bring home the importance of the impacts to the federal and state governments.
‘‘When (Minister for Regional Water) Niall Blair came to Deniliquin last year, he said he needed evidence of our concerns. Well, now we have provided him with that.’’
Ms Scoullar said no-one could now say they hadn’t been warned of the impacts.
The report found there had been a transfer of 451Gl of general security entitlement to the environment, representing about 28 per cent of the general security that was previously held within Murray Irrigation Ltd, and a further 25 per cent of general security entitlement held elsewhere in the NSW Murray Valley.
That reduction in the consumptive pool would otherwise have been available to generate irrigated production with a value of about $120million at the farm gate in an average season.
The main impact has been on annual cropping sectors, in particular rice, which has seen a reduction in production by nearly 30 per cent.
‘‘We all want a healthy river system, but sending massive volumes of water down the river on its own is not the answer,’’ Ms Scoullar said.
‘‘We need a multi-layered approach, we need complementary measures.
‘‘And last year’s floods are testament that the volumes of water they want to get to the SA border will cause major flooding on a regular basis.’’
She said the ‘triple bottom line’ needed to be applied to all decisions made on the basin plan.