AS the Murray-Darling Basin Plan faces potential legal challenges unless consensus is reached in coming weeks, the National Irrigators Council (NIC) has reiterated its main priority is to ensure the Plan contains an adjustment method that clearly identifies any water savings made from environmental measures to help reduce the overall SDLs target.
NIC chairman Gavin McMahon says his Council also wants to ensure the billions of dollars in funding, which underpins the Commonwealth’s water reforms, can be directed towards projects that provide good environmental outcomes for rivers and communities.
But he said the Basin Plan still lacked an environmental watering plan and relied on “faith” rather than sound water management principles.
He said an environmental watering plan would help determine where environmental water was coming from and is being directed to, what environmental outcomes would be achieved and if those goals are being met through timely and effective water use.
“What we’re saying to the Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder, which is the largest water holder in the system, is; what’s your plan for the next year?” he said.
“As irrigators we’re required to provide our plans on a yearly basis so that everyone has a good understanding of what our plan is and there’s transparency.”
Mr McMahon said one of the Plan’s biggest weaknesses was its inability to successfully monitor the success or otherwise, of any environmental watering.
He said more certainty was also needed around water apportionment to easily identify exactly which valleys the SDLs would be taken from and finite volumes for each valley.
Communities like the southern Basin face losing about 1000GLs under the current arrangements which would devastate agricultural production by up to 50 percent in places like the Murrumbidgee and impact severely on the ongoing survival of those economies.
Mr McMahon said knowing that information would give those communities the capacity to plan for the future with greater certainty.