Water recovery plan for Goulburn Valley

By Geoff Adams

A Goulburn Valley Water leadership group has grown tired of waiting for governments to act on a key policy development and came up with its own solution.

Yesterday, the Goulburn Murray Irrigation District Water Leadership Group produced a four-point test for water recovery under the Murray-Darling Basin Plan.

The federal and state governments involved in the Murray-Darling management have promised they wold establish a policy in June, but it has still not been produced.

The group developed the test at a workshop held in Shepparton on September 17.

The Federal Government is looking at how to recover up to 450Gl more water for the environment without causing any negative socio-economic impact on regional communities.

The Leadership Group has developed four questions which it says should be applied to all water recovery programs:

●Will this recover more water from the consumptive pool?

●Will this increase water prices?

●Will individual projects collectively result in a diverse third-party impacts on water users?

●Will individual projects collectively result in adverse third-party impacts?

Leadership Group co-chair Suzanna Sheed said communities had been promised no more water recovery if it caused more hardship, but they were still waiting to see the test that had been promised.

‘‘It is disappointing regional communities such as ours are forced to do the work of government to demonstrate the harsh reality on the ground, but we will continue to fight to have our voices heard.’’

She was also annoyed by the move to start expressions of interest in off-farm water recovery projects in Queensland and South Australia, without having developed the neutrality test.

She warned that any test which focused on an outcome for one party, for example, one farmer giving up water, could have negative outcomes for the community.

Ms Sheed said the Leadership Group acted to develop the tests because of the lack of government action on the issue.