Water

Weston wants voices heard

By Country News

Community members are encouraged to engage with Murray-Darling Basin Authority’s Community Committee to share their thoughts or concerns about the Murray-Darling Basin Plan.

The committee, which was first established in 2009, is designed to ensure communities have a voice during the implementation of the basin plan.

Adrian Weston, who is also Campaspe Shire mayor, was recently appointed to the committee, replacing Wyuna irrigator Russell Pell after he served nine years as the Goulburn-Broken’s representative.

The committee appoints individuals for three years, with the group putting together seven areas of focus for the coming years.

Mr Weston said he hoped to ensure people were heard.

‘‘My role is basically to carry a voice and carry the voice of our region and provide information about various aspects of the basin plans,’’ he said.

With 16 representatives from across the basin, Mr Weston said there were a number of different points of view in the room but the process was ‘‘very collaborative’’.

‘‘One of the main focuses has been the concerns regarding the socio-economic criteria and the neutrality test, seasonal conditions and the high costs of irrigation, as well as high and prolonged seasonal flows.

‘‘The neutrality test and the effect of the 450 (Gl) is common right across the basin ... a lot of communities are also concerned about access and quality of water, and cost of water is a common concern.’’

The committee’s November meeting outlined its priorities for the next three years.

‘‘Completing the water resource plans to adjust to the basin plan (through the sustainable diversion limit adjustment mechanism, constraints projects and the implementation of the Northern Basin Toolkit measures) were agreed as being immediately important,’’ the committee said.

River operations and tactics being used to strengthen operations to ensure communities model good compliance with water extraction and use across the basin, the evaluation of the basin plan, and greater involvement of Aboriginal First Nations were also among the elements of the basin plan the committee will focus on.

‘‘Members noted the continuing lack of knowledge and misunderstanding of aspects of the basin plan in many communities. ‘Who does what’ is an issue which creates considerable frustration at the local level,’’ the committee said.

Mr Weston is one of three representatives in the region, with Barmah irrigator Katrina Myers and Echuca local Amy Fay representing the Mid-Murray and Goulburn-Murray regions respectively.

‘‘If community groups have concerns or aspects of the plan they’d like to see articulated at meetings, let me know,’’ Mr Weston said.

Contact the MDBA Community Committee via email at engagement@mdba.gov.au or phone the community information line on 1800 230 067.

■Goulburn-Broken representative Adrian Weston can be contacted directly about issues to be raised with the committee by phone on 0428 320 464.