Water

Support for Fair Flow is flooding in

By Country News

The Goulburn Murray Irrigation District Water Leadership Group says the community is getting behind the campaign to ‘‘give us a #fairflow’’.

‘‘It’s great to see local businesses and community members joining our farmers to call for a fair flow for the GMID,’’ State Member for Shepparton and GMID Water Leadership Group co-chair Suzanna Sheed said.

‘‘We are pleased the Senate supported amending the (Murray-Darling) Basin Plan to reduce its 2750Gl target by up to 605Gl, using projects to deliver the same environmental benefits with less water,’’ she said.

‘‘But the 450Gl ‘up-water’ remains on the table.

‘‘We were promised no more water would be recovered from irrigators if it caused more community hardship.

‘‘This is not possible if the basin plan’s flawed socio-economic neutrality test stands.’’

The test assumes if an individual farmer chooses to trade water entitlements in return for government funding for upgrades, then the impact is positive or neutral.

Ms Sheed said the test must also include the broader community, regional and water market impacts, particularly in dry and drought years.

‘‘The GMID remains at risk until the test is broadened.’’

More than 2100Gl has already been recovered, most of it through buybacks.

An Ernst & Young report commissioned by the Murray-Darling Basin Ministerial Council warns the data has not been collected to properly evaluate the individual and collective socio-economic impacts of farmers trading more water entitlements to the environment in return for Commonwealth funding for farm upgrades.

‘‘On-farm projects have been a better way to return water to the environment, up until now,’’ Committee for Greater Shepparton chief executive officer and GMID Water Leadership Group member Sam Birrell said.

‘‘But there is a point at which any more water leaving the total pool will have a massive negative socio-economic impact. We are at that point now,’’ Mr Birrell said.

‘‘A more insecure and expensive water supply, as farmers compete for less water available on the market, threatens the viability of our key industries.

‘‘The Senate agreement only gives us certainty if a genuine, evidence-based socio-economic test is applied, and the volume recovered is adjusted accordingly.’’

■#fairflow placards are available from Opteon Solutions, 308 Maude St, Shepparton; or Suzanna Sheed’s electorate office, 5 Vaughan St, Shepparton.

■Photos of placards can be shared on the GMID Water Leadership Group’s Facebook page at: www.facebook.com/fairflow4/ or emailed to: info@gmid-waterleadership.org

■Follow the campaign on Twitter at @gmid-leadership and use the hashtag #fairflow to spread the word.