MDBA report gets mixed reaction

By Alana Christensen on October 10, 2017
  • MDBA report gets mixed reaction

    VFF Water Council chairman Richard Anderson said he was pleased with the report, which proposed adjusting the Sustainable Diversion Limits in the southern basin to 605Gl, labelling it ‘‘pretty positive’’.

The Murray-Darling Basin Authority’s latest report has received mixed reviews, with some people welcoming the news while others have been left with more questions than answers.

VFF Water Council chairman Richard Anderson said he was pleased with the report, which proposed adjusting the Sustainable Diversion Limits in the southern basin to 605Gl, labelling it ‘‘pretty positive’’.

‘‘If you look at the report, you’d say you probably don’t have to recover any more water. So it all looks fairly positive,’’ Mr Anderson said.

‘‘We’ll wait for that next step pretty much. I think it’s a positive upside, given that six months ago they were talking only achieving 400Gl and now they’ve come out with 605Gl (in this report).’’

Mr Anderson said he expected the irrigation community to welcome the recommendation but said many groups would want to wait and see some further detail surrounding the 36 proposed projects that the MDBA said could help achieve the proposed 605Gl target.

Following meetings in Canberra with the authority through his role as chair of the Murray River Group of Councils, Campaspe Mayor Adrian Weston said despite what had been suggested in the report, it still needed to be implemented.

‘‘At face value what I’ve seen so far it looks like the Sustainable Diversion Limits proposal is acceptable, we’ve recovered all the water we need to it appears,’’ Cr Weston said.

‘‘The important thing is that it proceeds and gets formalised. The respective states have until 2024 to implement all the nominated projects.

‘‘They’ve identified and assessed that up to 605Gl is a good outcome; 650Gl would have been better, but it certainly gets Victoria over the line in terms of the 1075Gl Victorian contribution. The bigger conversation will commence around the 450Gl of up-water.’’

While Mr Anderson and Cr Weston welcomed the report’s findings, others have hit out at the MDBA, with Southern Riverina Irrigators chairman Graeme Pyle questioning the modelling in the report.

‘‘I’m fairly worried about the modelling and assumption the report is based on,’’ Mr Pyle said.

‘‘(In the past) we have found the evaluation of the socio-economic implications on Murray regions were profoundly wrong.

‘‘We hope the modelling they’ll use for the SDL programs are much better than the models that have been used (in the past).’’

Despite labelling the report ‘‘inevitable’’, Mr Pyle said he was shocked at the lack of information concerning the criteria used to select the 36 projects.

It is a concern that Goulburn Valley Environment Group president John Pettigrew echoed.

He said the group has not been consulted about the proposed projects and what he had read in the report left him with plenty of questions.

‘‘We’re very keen to see the business cases for these projects,’’ Mr Pettigrew said.

‘‘The sort of areas we’re looking at are the ongoing costs and the replacement of infrastructure.

‘‘We need to be convinced that all those costs to support those projects long term are met.

‘‘We’ve had no involvement in the development of these projects and that’s in some ways a shame, but what’s passed has passed.

‘‘Our efforts now will be really to get a look at the projects and fully understand what is proposed.’’

By Alana Christensen on October 10, 2017

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