Water

Northern basin target reduced

By Country News

The northern Murray-Darling Basin water recovery target has been reduced by 70Gl after amendments came into law last week.

The amendments, which passed Federal Parliament last month, were made after the review was stopped by the Senate in February.

‘‘Keeping those extra 70Gl will protect about 200 jobs in northern basin communities while still delivering for the environment,’’ Federal Agriculture Minister David Littleproud said.

‘‘The government is delivering certainty to communities across the basin, and this is a key part of that.’’

Mr Littleproud said the northern basin review process was included in the Murray-Darling Basin Plan by all jurisdictions in 2012 and the water recovery target now sat at 320Gl, rather than 390Gl.

‘‘We will also deliver a toolkit of environmental works and measures,’’ he said.

‘‘This will include targeted recovery of water, event-based mechanisms such as options for pumping and store-and-release, and environmental works to promote fish movement and habitat.

‘‘The agreement between the Coalition Government and the Opposition will further protect environmental flows, strengthen compliance with water laws, and improve outcomes for Aboriginal people.’’

National Irrigators’ Council chief executive officer Steve Whan said the decision would be good news for communities and the environment.

‘‘The northern basin amendment is important for a couple of reasons,’’ Mr Whan said.

‘‘The first is that it achieves better environmental outcomes than the requirements it replaces and it does it at the same time as minimising further job losses in northern NSW and southern Queensland communities.

‘‘Critically this amendment commits resources to so called ‘toolkit’ measures.

‘‘These are things irrigators have been advocating, like improving conditions for native fish, tackling pest species and improving connectivity of the river.’’