Victorian Water Minister Lisa Neville visited several Loddon Valley district farms last Friday to reassure herself about progress in the Goulburn-Murray Water Connections program.
The controversial project has come under criticism because of its slow pace and failure to deliver upgraded irrigation infrastructure. Some farmers have complained of waiting for years.
Ms Neville announced a ‘‘reset’’ last year to try to reboot the project and get it moving again.
She said she was satisfied with the progress, but was also informed of some issues in regulating the channel levels on upgraded channels, which appeared to be software problems.
She has asked the Connections leaders to address the software issue with a high priority.
‘‘They have this ongoing issue with the Total Channel Control system causing fluctuations,’’ she said.
Ms Neville said farmers who had been working with a completed Connections program generally spoke well of the system.
She acknowledged some cynicism because of the legacy issues but was looking forward to the works progressing.
‘‘The winter works program is massive, with about 300 people involved and spending about $100million,’’ she said.
As well as raising Connections issues with the minister, the Loddon farmers also expressed concern about whether the Murray-Darling Basin Plan would take more consumptive water from the rivers.
Ms Neville said the Victorian Government remained committed to the 2750Gl delivery, and the additional 450Gl of upwater would only be delivered if there were no negative socio-economic impacts.
She repeated earlier statements that the plan was about delivering 2750Gl.
She said the extra water, taking the total to 3200Gl, could only be delivered if the socio-economic provisos were met.
She said NSW and Victorian governments were united and clear on this.
Asked if she found that difficult, given her Federal Labor colleagues took a different view, Ms Neville said it was her priority to make sure that the Federal Government supported the view that the 450Gl could only be delivered in the previously described context.
She understood Federal Water Minister Barnaby Joyce supported that view.
Ms Neville visited the Torrumbarry and Durham Ox districts last week with G-MW water service members.