The National Irrigators’ Council (NIC) welcomes the NSW and Victorian Government independent expert panel on Basin river flows, saying it is important to focus on achieving real environmental outcomes not just ticking off flow targets. 

CEO, Steve Whan, said “Victoria and NSW have started a process which should involve all Basin Governments and one, importantly, which is consistent with the recommendations from the Productivity Commission’s five-year review of the Basin Plan. 

“NIC has consistently said the review’s recommendations should be the basis for action on some of the difficult challenges remaining with Basin Plan implementation.  Frankly, we have been disappointed to date with the responses to some of those recommendations.” 

Recommendation 5.1 said ‘as soon as practicable, the Murray Darling Basin Authority (as the agent of governments) should comprehensively update and publish modelling to confirm the enhanced environmental outcomes that can be achieved with additional water recovery. This modelling should use up to date information on constraints proposals, the effects of supply measures, and the volume of held environmental water. The Murray Darling Basin Authority should also model the benefits of additional environmental water within existing delivery constraints, and use this information to establish which Sustainable Diversion Limit resource units should be the priority for additional environmental water recovery.

“Implementing the recommendation is critical to working out how best to achieve the ‘enhanced environmental outcomes’ South Australia negotiated as a part of the Plan .

“It would have seemed short-sighted to decide to fly blind, ignore the independent Productivity Commission recommendation and just hope the environmental outcomes appear in 2024. 

“However, undertaking the review should not be a reason to fail to pursue the critical 605GL worth of supply measures projects.  NIC is concerned that failure to achieve 605GL of equivalent environmental benefits from supply projects will ultimately result in irrigation communities losing more productive water.  That would be a bad outcome for communities and for a river environment already being damaged by constant bank high flows.

“Again, we agree with the five-year review on this.  We need action to accelerate these projects and to get them implemented adaptively and flexibly – focusing on outcomes.”

Media Contact:  Steve Whan 0429 780 883

Monday 30 September 2019