A pause in implementing the Murray-Darling Basin Plan could put the whole plan at risk, Murray-Darling Basin Authority’s chief executive Phil Glyde has warned.
He was commenting on the calls by some Goulburn Valley community leaders for a delay in implementing the plan while assessments on progress are carried out, and various inquiries, reports and the South Australian royal commission is finalised.
But Mr Glyde said there was a danger the plan would lose momentum.
‘‘I am really wary of these calls.
‘‘This is a set of agreements reached in 2012 which all parties supported and with a truck-load of money behind them.’’
He said if the plan was stopped there was a danger it would fall apart.
Postponing the plan might be useful in the short term but would also delay long-term gain, he said.
Mr Glyde said he had heard requests for delays to the plan from the water industry and environmentalists.
He didn’t want to see work halted on infrastructure water recovery measures.
In terms of gaining more information on progress with the plan, Mr Glyde pointed to the evaluation report released last week which sets out what has been achieved in the past five years.
Described as the ‘‘report card’’ in academic terms, he said it was not a ‘‘gold star’’ but neither was it a ‘‘fail’’.
The report identifies more work to be done on water resource plans, stronger compliance and ways of recovering the water take, but also points out that about two-thirds of water recovery has already been achieved.
Mr Glyde said there was some good evidence of environmental gains in areas such as vegetation and fish breeding at a localised level.
‘‘There are good early signs that if we keep on the path we will get the system-wide outcomes.
‘‘It won’t be done instantly but we are encouraged by the results.’’
Mr Glyde acknowledged the concerns of Goulburn-Murray irrigators in a difficult operational climate, and with industries competing for available water.