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National water plan – good or bad?

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large dogques.gifBrumby promises more water for Murray irrigators

ABC Online – Victorian Premier John Brumby has visited Mildura to sell his decision to agree to a national takeover of the Murray-Darling basin.
but ….
Farmers to lose 30% of water: irrigators says The Age
Rann says Murray deal will send another 100 billion litres into SA Advertiser Adelaide
Melbourne Herald SunSky News Australian
all 407 news articles

Who knows what the outcome will be?

dog.gifSophie condemns COAG water agreement
“Today’s announcement means that the Rudd Labor Government will give financial support of $1 billion to Stage 2 of the Brumby Government’s Food Bowl Modernisation Project – something they explicitly said they would not do. The outcome of today’s talks means that the Rudd Labor Government is complicit in the actions of the Brumby Labor Government’s sinister plot to pipe water from the Goulburn system to Melbourne.”, Mrs Mirabella said.

targ.gifFarmers Federation happy with Murray sign-on
Richard Anderson from the Victorian Farmers Federation says it looks like water security for irrigators will be protected. “From what I’ve heard so far it’s all positive in terms of wins for the Victorian irrigators and obviously the VFF of which I’m the water chairman,” he said.

dog.gifIrrigators angry over Murray Darling basin plan
About 30 protesters confronted the Premier, saying the deal will not get them the water they desperately need for next season. Sunraysia irrigator Christine Argiro, says irrigators need 100 per cent of their water allocations to get a crop.


Water need urgent: lower Murray locals
The plan could take until 2011 to implement, but has been generally praised by people along the Lower Lakes of the Murray in South Australia.

There’s mixed support for it at the moment … although the water experts agree that is a good move!

Professor Snow Barlow is Professor of Horticultrue and Viticulture in the Faculty of Land and Food Resources, University of Melbourne.

“This is a very constructive outcome to an important national debate that allows all the water resources of the Murray Darling basin to be managed conjunctively. The inclusion of groundwater in the agreement is a significant step forward. While the devil will be in the detail of the agreement with regard to the nature of the national body established to mange the basin and its relationships with existing bodies and the principles of water management to be incorporated within the agreement. While there is much to be done in making this historic agreement operational I am sure it will bring a smile to Peter Cullen’s face , from whatever vantage he is watching from !”

Paul Perkins AM is adjunct professor at the ANU’s Fenner Centre for Environment and Society and chair of CRC CARE. He is a leading commentator on water policy and sustainability strategies. His research activities include integrated catchment management and water sharing systems.

“Today’s COAG National Water Plan announcement and explanatory releases by Minister Penny Wong are a welcome step forward and an indication of the new Australian government’s determination to deal with the States.

The signing on of Victoria was inevitable but not surprisingly, extracted an earmarked $1 billion support for their ‘Foodbowl modernisation program’ which is planned to free up a billion litres for environmental flows and another billion for Goulburn Valley irrigators from infrastructure investment to deliver use efficiencies: the reallocation of water savings to Melbourne will presumably also now be possible given agreed State powers of allocations. The trade-off is a Victorian commitment to a multi-year cap within an overall MDBC cap to be approved by the Commonwealth Minister on advice from the new National Water Authority.

The agreement re storage of allocations upstream are also an important precedent as earlier rhetoric on water trading had not prescribed access, upstream storage and ‘wheeling’ arrangements adequately; this ‘Adelaide clause’ will receive a lot of attention in coming months.

We’ll have to wait for the detail in the new IGA (Intergovernmental agreement) to be completed by the next COAG meeting in July.”

Professor Wayne Meyer is Professor of Natural Resource Science at the University of Adelaide. He is an internationally recognised irrigation scientist with experience in crop water requirements and salinity management in irrigated regions.

“It is certainly a good thing that Victoria has signed on because a national approach is really critical. The next step will be whether or not there will actually be a significant effect and it won’t be achieved through marginal policies like buying a bit of water here and there, I think that would be quite debilitating. It really will require some pretty hard nosed decisions about where it is suitable for irrigation to continue to be practised. Just doing little bits here and there will not achieve what is needed.”

Professor Gary Jones is a leading Australian water expert and Chief Executive Officer of the eWater CRC.

“Now the agreement is in place, it’s time to start spending the money and stop talking about it! The environment needs this investment desperately. In parts of the Murray Darling Basin the environment is in crisis. We welcome the Victorian government’s decision to sign the deal and would urge all governments to take action quickly before it is too late.

The Victorian Government’s decision to sign the rescue package will now enable the elements of the rescue package to proceed. $5.9 billion will be invested in irrigation supply infrastructure such as lining channels and piping water and improving farm irrigation technology. Fifty percent of the water saved through these initiatives should flow to the environment. An additional $3 billion has been allocated under the plan to buy back water for the environment from willing irrigators. “


Written by Greg Naylor

27 March 2008 at 6:22 pm

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