Irrigators unhappy with plan

By Alana Christensen

Irrigators have expressed disappointment in the Northern Victoria Water Resource Plan, saying despite the length of the massive 1022-page document, many issues remain unaddressed.

Naring irrigator Barry Croke said given the timing of the release of the report — during the release of the Productivity Commission report and the South Australia Royal Commission into the Murray-Darling Basin report — many found tackling the 1022-page ‘‘thing’’ difficult.

‘‘I just felt the timing of the release of it was dreadful,’’ Mr Croke said.

‘‘I don’t know how people got around to reading the thing ... I haven’t managed to read it all but it seems there’s some very hollow rhetoric.’’

The resource plan outlines how northern Victoria will reach its annual water recovery target of an average of 1052Gl of surface water for the environment, including how much water can be taken from surface water, water saved by upgrading and modernising irrigation systems, and water recovered from farmers by the Federal Government.

‘‘The basin plan aims to achieve healthy, working rivers that support productive and resilient water-dependent industries, healthy and resilient ecosystems and communities with access to sufficient and reliable water supplies,’’ the water resource plan says.

‘‘The basin plan requires all Murray-Darling Basin states, including Victoria, to prepare water resource plans by June 2019.’’

Mr Croke said he was disappointed to see how some issues were addressed including climate change, high unseasonal flows and the increasing cost of the operation of the Goulburn Murray Irrigation District.

‘‘We have had a highly reliable system and it’s falling apart. I don’t think the plan addresses it.’’

Victorian Water Minister Lisa Neville said the resource plan was about balancing the needs of all Victorian water users — the environment, farmers, traditional owners and the community.

‘‘This plan shows how Victoria can rely on its existing water management and entitlement frameworks to meet the requirements of the Murray-Darling Basin Plan,’’ Ms Neville said.

The final resource plan will be submitted to the Murray-Darling Basin Authority for review in April and must be accredited by the Federal Water Minister.

The water resource plan consultation period has been extended. The public has until 5pm on Monday, March 14 to respond to the draft plan. To make a submission or for information, visit: engage.vic.gov.au/water-resource-plan-northern-victoria