Murray Lower Darling water sharing plan “extremely disappointing”

By Jamie Salter

The final Water Sharing Plan draft for the NSW Murray and Lower Darling Regulated River Water Sources has been labelled "extremely disappointing and absolutely unacceptable" by the Murray Regional Strategy Group.

MRSG chair Alan Mathers said illogical timelines for the Murray-Darling Basin Plan led to incomplete consultation in the NSW Murray, with many key issues left unresolved.

”This is supposed to be a NSW plan that clearly lays out the rules for the equitable sharing of the available NSW Murray water resource, not just between productive users but also between productive users and the environment,” Mr Mathers said.

“Instead it reads as an environmental plan without appropriate equitable recognition of the fundamental realities of existing operational rules and protection of existing irrigator rights.”

He said a number of the recommendations would impact NSW users’ right to access water within the state boundaries.

The Murray Regional Strategy Group includes Murray Valley Private Diverters, Southern Riverina Irrigators, Murray Irrigation, West Corurgan Private Irrigation District and Ricegrowers’ Association.

Mr Mathers said the groups would be providing NSW Water Minister Melinda Pavey with a ‘dissenting report’, outlining issues that require further consultation.

“We urge the minister to remind her department that they work under her and are employed by NSW taxpayers, not the Murray-Darling Basin Authority, nor the Federal Government,” Mr Mathers said.

“NSW needs to get this right for the future of its communities, not just tick a box by a date.”

He said since the first draft was released late last year, MRSG had attempted to ensure existing water property rights would be unimpaired.

“This proposed plan needs to be pulled and all serious outstanding issues given due consideration with genuine consultation.”