The National Irrigators’ Council (NIC) says comment in media today, saying more water is being taken from the Murray Darling, are assertion, without factual support.

NIC CEO Steve Whan said “the joint report talking about a so-called ‘rebound effect on water extraction’, makes an heroic leap from fact on individual farm water use, to unsubstantiated claim on overall basin wide water use. 

“The report is quite likely to be correct when it says farmers who have received infrastructure funding might have increased extraction relative to other farmers.  That is because their properties are more efficient, and they will often increase production by buying water from another licence holder. 

“It does not mean overall water use in the Basin has gone up.  Right now, the environmental water holder has registered water entitlement of more than 2,800 GL in their account, real water entitlement that has produced real environmental outcomes.

“This really is a very simple concept.  When a farmer receives efficiency funding, they sell a portion of their water back to Commonwealth.  That water is taken out of productive use.  However, the farmer can then buy more water from another farmer.

“Let’s say there are 10 oranges, two farmers own 5 each.  Farmer one sells 3 oranges to the Government.  Farmer one then buys 4 oranges from farmer two.  Farmer one now has 6 oranges when he started with 5, yes, he has more – but overall, there are only 7. 

“Any report full of loaded words in its commentary, reveals the bias of its authors.

“The simple fact is that this report does not show evidence that efficiency programs have led to higher water use in the Murray Darling Basin, and when you read the report it admits that.   It also makes the bizarre attempt to use a Southern Basin survey to justify conclusions about the Northern Basin. 

“What it does do is, once again, highlight the importance of improving the measurement of our rivers, getting the highest standards of metering and improving overall water accounting.  Everyone agrees with that.

“Finally, there is one glaring omission from this report’s criticism of efficiency programs.  They ignore, or dismiss on spurious grounds, evidence of negative impact on communities from water buyback. Recently reinforced by an independent social and economic review.

“The Basin Plan promise was to increase production while using less water, that’s what efficiency does, it benefits the environment while securing long term jobs and economic activity in Country communities.”

Media Contact:  Steve Whan 0429 780 883

Friday 1 May 2020