More details sought

September 12, 2017

VFF water council president Richard Anderson expressed disappointment with the detail available at the meeting.

The Murray-Darling Basin Authority has outlined how it will handle environmental projects that will save water for the river system, but some stakeholders want more information.

At a meeting in Shepparton, irrigators and environmentalists asked for more detail on the projects, which will help achieve the Sustainable Diversion Limit for the Murray-Darling.

VFF water council president Richard Anderson expressed disappointment with the detail available at the meeting and said he was expecting to learn more about how the authority planned to find the 650Gl of water savings.

The authority told the Shepparton meeting the project information would be available in the first week of October, which will be followed by a month-long public consultation process.

Goulburn Valley Environment Group president John Pettigrew was also disappointed and said it appeared they would have to rely on getting the information from the Victorian Government.

‘‘What we’ve heard doesn’t give us any confidence in the consultation process starting in October,’’ he said.

About 50 people attended Thursday’s meeting, which was addressed by MDBA chief executive officer Phil Glyde, chairman Neil Andrew and other authority representatives.

It was the first of a series of meetings explaining sustainable diversion limits, to be held across the basin.

In his opening speech, Mr Glyde acknowledged the impact and angst that had been caused by the Murray-Darling Basin Plan, and how the northern Victorian community had to cope with a range of water reform changes.

He said the basin plan sought to restore water diversions to a sustainable level.

According to the authority, the SDLs will make more water available to the environment to improve and maintain the health of waterways, lakes, major wetlands and floodplains within the basin, as well as protect habitats for animals and plants that rely on its water.

Mr Glyde said finding the 650Gl was about implementing projects which could generate the savings more efficiently.

Jan Beer from Yea asked for more information about the impacts of environmental watering across the whole basin.

Mr Glyde acknowledged that while there was information from many of the individual river systems showing improvement in areas such as fish populations, they were still waiting on information on whole catchment improvements.

Katunga farmer Daryl Hoey put it to Mr Glyde that the talk of the 450Gl of up-water in addition to the 2750Gl set aside for the environment, was almost a ‘‘fait accompli’’.

Mr Glyde said consultants Ernst and Young had been engaged to do a report on the social and economic impacts of the extra 450Gl.

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