The Murray River Group of Councils is urging decision-makers to carefully consider all of the available data on the social and economic impacts of the Murray-Darling Basin Plan, as well as examining the environmental outcomes, and not to rush decisions that will have huge long-term consequences.
Ahead of the recent COAG meeting, Murray River Group of Councils chair and Campaspe Shire Mayor Adrian Weston, called again for basin governments to continue pursuing a balanced approach to the implementation of the basin plan.
‘‘The basin plan is forever changing the way the water of the basin is used,’’ he said.
‘‘The impact on our communities is already being felt and needs to be properly assessed and understood as we continue through to the end of implementation in 2024.’’
Cr Weston acknowledged the additional independent socio-economic assessment that water ministers had commissioned.
‘‘The more data that is collected, the clearer the picture will become.
‘‘That said, we strongly urge that the independent studies already completed in our region are fully taken into account.’’
Cr Weston said two independent reports, separately commissioned by the Victorian Government and the Goulburn Murray Irrigation District Water Leadership Group, reached similar conclusions on the socio-economic impact of the basin plan on northern Victoria — that the impact was significant and detrimental.
‘‘We have studies now that clearly show the massive impact taking 450Gl more productive water out of the system will have on dairy and on horticulture come the next drought,’’ he said.
‘‘These studies back up what we know is happening locally in our council areas; to our farmers, businesses and our communities.
‘‘We all want the best possible environmental outcomes, right throughout the basin. But they need to be achieved with the least possible socio-economic impact.’’
The Murray River Group of Councils comprises six councils in northern Victoria.