More water for critical needs in the Broken system

By Rodney Woods

The Victorian Government is making temporary changes to rules in the Broken system to provide more water for the critical stock and domestic needs over the next six months.

The temporary change, which is known as a qualification of water rights, was announced by Water Minister Lisa Neville in addition to a review into the future management of the water supply in the Broken system.

The review will consider the impact of ongoing dry conditions and low inflows over a number of years and identify the system management changes that will be required to deal with the changing climate.

In the meantime, the qualification of rights will provide immediate relief to landowners — with changes to the way water is shared among farmers and the wider system.

“Some people in the Broken system do not have access to enough water for critical human needs this year, which is why we are helping them out with a temporary qualification of rights to provide access to water,” Ms Neville said.

There is currently enough water to operate the Broken system this year and any water allocations carried over from last season can be delivered, but seasonal allocations for high-reliability water shares in the Broken system are currently zero and are not expected to increase this season unless conditions turn wet.

The changes will take effect from January 1, and will remain in place until June 30, 2020 unless the seasonal determination against high-reliability water shares reaches 50 per cent.

The qualification is not expected to impact on other irrigators or the environment.

The review into management of the Broken system will take place between early-2020 and mid-2021 and include consultation with community, key stakeholders and water users.