VFF backs water compliance report

By Geoff Adams

The VFF has welcomed Victorian Water Minister Lisa Neville’s announcement to adopt all recommendations in the Water Compliance and Enforcement Review.

VFF Water Council chair Richard Anderson said Victorian farmers expected to see all state governments taking similar action to stamp out unauthorised overuse of water.

“We need all governments across the Murray-Darling Basin to take a strong stance on unauthorised overuse, and the VFF calls on all basin states to adopt a similar approach to Victoria,” Mr Anderson said.

Earlier this year the VFF wrote to all basin state governments calling for tougher enforcement on irrigators who did the wrong thing by taking water they did not own.

“Some irrigators who divert directly from the Murray River are using more water than they have in their water accounts and are then paying it back later in the season,” Mr Anderson said.

“For example, overuse in South Australia causes a spike in water prices as irrigators scramble to top up their accounts.

“This means some irrigators have purchased water late in the season to top up their overuse, saving them $400 per megalitre than if they bought the water around the time they actually used it.

“For large corporates this can save them multiple millions of dollars, by simply taking someone else’s water.”

Mr Anderson said although the review found low levels of unauthorised overuse in Victoria, it did find differences in the amount of overuse across the different water corporations.

“The minister agreed to the review’s recommendation to establish a zero-tolerance approach across all water corporations — and this is a positive step,” he said.