The National Irrigators’ Council has welcomed the Murray-Darling Basin Authority’s recognition of the effects it says the Murray-Darling Basin Plan is having on communities, particularly those in the northern basin.
According to the council, the MDBA’s northern basin review not only acknowledged the plan’s negative socio-economic impact from water buybacks but also recognised the need for measures other than ‘just add water’ to improve the environment.
NIC chief executive officer Steve Whan said it was about time the authority came to its senses.
‘‘The MDBA’s northern basin review has finally given official recognition to the severe social and economic impacts on communities of water buybacks,’’ Mr Whan said.
‘‘Official recognition is welcome because it confirms what the communities themselves have been living every day.’’
The NIC has lodged its submission to leave water recovery in the northern basin at 278Gl, which is 86 per cent of the new target proposed by the MDBA, which it says reiterates its strong view that water recovery has gone far enough in the northern basin.
‘‘The recovery of 278Gl to date has cost the northern basin $139million annually in lost farm gate production,’’ Mr Whan said.
‘‘Based on a conservative 3:1 multiplier effect, this accounts for over $400million lost to communities in the northern basin annually.
‘‘Let’s remember this is more than just numbers, this is a direct impact on people and communities.
‘‘The NIC has consistently pointed out that, for example, just releasing more cold water from the bottom of a dam can actually hurt the capacity of native fish to breed and encourage carp.
‘‘That’s not helpful and it’s just one of the areas where action other than releasing water needs to be supported.’’