Irrigators and irrigation communities bear 100% of the risk if the 36 Sustainable Diversion Limit (SDL) Adjustment Projects(soon to be voted on by Parliament) are not successfully implemented, that’s the message the National Irrigators Council has given the Productivity Commission’s review of the Murray Darling Basin Plan.

NIC CEO, Steve Whan said “these 36 projects are all about delivering water more effectively to the environment – without them the Basin Plan cannot meet its environmental goals.

“They include infrastructure to deliver water to floodplains and wetlands in South Australia, Victoria and NSW; along with projects to remove the natural constraints stopping the delivery of higher flows and others including reconfiguration of Menindee Lakes.”

The NIC submission to the Productivity Commission says, “There is a misconception that SDL adjustment projects represent a risk to the Basin Plan’s environmental objectives.

“The projects need to be seen as investments in modernising the way water is stored, conveyed and ultimately delivered within and across river systems. If State governments fail to deliver the agreed projects or the projects fail to generate the envisaged benefits, it will be irrigators and ultimately irrigation communities who will be required to give up more water entitlement.

“In that sense, 100% of the risk is effectively being born by food and fibre producers and irrigation communities”.

Steve Whan said, “the critical point is that the 605GL assessment attached to these projects is subject to a full reconciliation in 2024.If the projects fail to deliver their projected outcomes, the gap is met by acquiring water from irrigators.

“It is absolutely true that some of the projects require much more work. They are in their early stages. The planning, consultation and implementation is still to happen.

“NIC would encourage communities, scientists, environmentalists and irrigators to actively engage in the planning process to ensure that these projects do deliver the environmental benefits anticipated.

‘It is vital that implementing the SDL adjustment measures projects, State governments are able to adopt an adaptive approach, they must be given the flexibility to modify projects and be encouraged to bring forward new proposals in the light of new knowledge.

“There is no downside to allowing maximum flexibility. Irrespective of the final shape of projects in an equivalent flow sense, there will be a full reconciliation in 2024.”

Media Contact : Steve Whan 0429 780 883
Date: 19 April 2018