A new consultant’s report may pave the way for the Murray Darling Basin to take more water for the environment.
The report commissioned by the Federal Government says that it is possible to get the 450Gl of ‘‘up-water’’ in addition to the agreed target of 2750Gl without causing negative socio-economic damage.
And new Federal Water Minister David Littleproud has already said he wants to see the 450Gl delivered.
The Ernst and Young report has been described as ‘‘disappointing’’ by Goulburn Valley water leaders and joint chair of the Goulburn Murray Irrigation District water leadership group David McKenzie, who said although a bulky document, there appears to be little new analysis or insight that might help basin state ministers make sound decisions about how to design appropriate strategies and programs to complete the basin plan.
Water leaders are worried that taking the extra 450Gl from the consumptive pool will damage irrigation communities.
‘‘After all this time, the report has not addressed the fundamental question that all basin communities want answered: ‘can the 450Gl be recovered with neutral or improved socio-economic outcomes?’,’’ Mr McKenzie said.
Mr Littleproud said: ‘‘I remain committed to delivering the plan to which all basin governments agreed, the 450Gl and delivering efficiency measures without negative social or economic impacts.’’
Member for Shepparton Suzanna Sheed was pleased Mr Littleproud has reiterated that commitment and trusts he would hold his government and department to that.
‘‘I know he comes from an area which has been impacted by water loss.
‘‘He should also understand the impacts on a regional basis.
‘‘There still remains many other questions unanswered and we will not be able to manage the whole situation until there is proper monitoring and management of water take, particularly in the northern region of the basin,’’ Ms Sheed said.